22nd May,2020 Daily Global Regional and Local Rice E-Newsletter.pdf
Daily Rice e-Newsletter
Global Regional and Local Rice News
COVID-19 Export Restrictions Threaten Global Food
By Kristina Arianina and Patrick Morris
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Law360 (May 20, 2020, 5:20 PM EDT) --
Across the world, countries are coming to terms with the economic devastation created
by COVID-19 and measures taken to limit the virus's spread. One aspect of the global
economy that has been directly affected by the pandemic is the global food supply
Within the U.S., meat shortages have prompted presidential and congressional action, and across
the world, staple crops such as rice and sugar have more than tripled in price. As a result, some
countries have taken steps to limit exports of foodstuffs. If more countries enact these and other
food protectionist policies, there could be an even greater threat to the global food supply chain.
This article explains current government actions affecting global food supply, as well as the
threat posed if more countries are pressured into establishing food protectionist policies.
U.S. Response to Potential Food Disruptions
As with many other countries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. food production and
supply chains have been disrupted by the virus. Recently, a number of meat processing facilities
have begun to reduce output or suspend production as workers fall ill with the coronavirus.
As of May 20, at least 57 meatpacking and food processing plants had closed at some point for at
least a day, although some closures have lasted over two weeks. As of May 18, these closures
have resulted in a 10.6% reduction in the nation's pork slaughter capacity and a 24.6% reduction
in beef slaughter capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture weekly livestock
In addition, dairy farmers and other foodstuff manufacturers have been forced to dispose of
excess food, as their main consumers — schools and restaurants — have been forced to cease or
limit operations due to government-required lockdowns. As this food goes to waste, food
manufacturers are faced with even greater losses, potentially forcing them out of business.
The U.S. government has taken varied forms of action in response to these mounting food supply
On April 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order invoking the Defense
Production Act in regards to the production of meat and poultry. The president's executive
order classified meat and poultry production facilities as critical infrastructure under the law,
thereby requiring them to remain open. However, as Americans buy more protein while they
work from home, this measure in itself will not completely eliminate potential shortages and
rising prices, particularly in the short term.
On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
into law. The CARES Act provides significant funding to support the U.S. food supply chain.
With funds allocated from the act, the USDA has implemented a $19 billion Coronavirus Food
Assistance Program, or CFAP.
The CFAP will provide $16 billion in direct support to agricultural producers "based on actual
losses ... where prices and market supply chains have been impacted." In addition, the CFAP will
provide assistance where there are losses "resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply
for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID19."
The USDA will also partner with area distributors to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy
and meat to maintain the nation's food supply. It has up to an additional $873.3 million
available in funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food
Further, though historically limited to loan programs through the USDA, agricultural producers,
farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses have been deemed eligible for the Economic
Injury Disaster Loan program of the U.S. Small Business Administration. These loans can
now provide up to $2 million in financial assistance to small agricultural producers, farmers,
ranchers and other agricultural businesses, as well as other small businesses, that suffer
substantial economic injury as a result of the declared disaster.
Global Food Supply Concerns and Worries of Food Nationalism
Beyond the U.S., the COVID-19 crisis has also forced many governments to reconsider their
food supply chain and security policies. With almost a fifth part of the population under
lockdown, global food supply chains are extremely strained. The virus has complicated shipping
logistics and slowed commodity exports around the world. Food supply is further strained due to
labor shortages, logistics interruptions, and limited access to markets.
This has resulted in food loss and waste. In India, a global rice and sugar exporter, the country's
lockdown has disrupted several logistics channels. It won't be able to ship around 5 million tons
of sugar because of a shortage of labor at ports and sugar mills.
Lockdowns have also created obstacles to hiring a seasonal workforce. In the U.K. for example,
farming leaders have called for almost 80,000 workers to replace a shortfall of seasonal foreign
workers. France and Spain, who generally rely on Eastern European labor for seasonal
agricultural employment, currently have thousands of acres of rotting, unpicked crops due to
boarder closures. Similar concerns will affect almost every country with lockdown measures in
In response to these concerns, leaders of the G-20 pledged on March 26 to inject over $5 trillion
into the global economy to preserve jobs and to maintain trade flows, limiting disruption to
The U.K. passed legislation to, among other things, support the food industry and maintain
suppliers. The European Commission published guidelines to protect health and ensure the
availability of goods and essential services. The guidelines provide that "[c]ontrol measures
should not undermine the continuity of economic activity and should preserve the operation of
However, other countries have taken a more self-supply focus in implementing pandemic-related
Seventeen countries have imposed export restrictions on food and agriculture since the end of
March. Russia has approved a 7 million ton grain export quota; Serbia has suspended
shipments of sunflower oil; Kazakhstan restricted exports of wheat flour, buckwheat, sugar
and sunflower oil; the Eurasian Economic Union countries have introduced quotas on some
vegetables until September; and Vietnam, one of the world's largest global rice producers,
implemented export restrictions on the crop fearing a spike in global demand.
These export restrictions will only add to the strain on food supplies. Export restrictions have
generally pushed global prices for food higher, as the food supply reduces in quality.
An example of this can be seen during the Great Depression, when food protectionism
exacerbated and extended the economic and social disaster. More recently, during the 2008-2011
economic crisis, governments worldwide imposed 85 new export restrictions on food. These
actions pushed world food prices up by 13% on average — including a substantial 45% increase
in the price of rice.
Just in the last few weeks, when Vietnam suggested pausing its rice exportation, prices for rice
shot higher. These prices could devastate the economies of food importing countries, while
also pricing out poorer consumers. Moreover, the restrictions will severely limit the amount of
food available globally. Vietnam's restrictions on rice exports could have reduced the global
supply rice by 10% to 15%.
Not only will these restrictions harm the global food supply, they will also cripple food
producers domestically. The international markets provide endless numbers of buyers, especially
of staple crops like rice and wheat. When export restrictions are imposed, domestic sellers cannot
find buyers of their products, leading to excess supply and waste, as well as potentially huge
economic losses for the producer.
Further, such restrictions of exports are not necessary to maintain food supply. The USDA
projects that global production of rice and wheat this year will be enough to meet global demand,
and the United Nations World Food Program analysis reported that global stocks of staple
commodities are well supplied, assuring food availability.
However, the head of the World Food Program warned that if countries continue to restrict the
global food supply, "we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries." While
many of these export restrictions are meant to be temporary, any extended application of such
policies could be devastating, for both the global supply of food and the country implementing
What Should Governments Do?
While governments should make all efforts to keep the food supply chain operating, they should
not succumb to the illogic of food export restrictions or other food nationalism policies.
Rather, countries should follow the example of the U.S., Group of 20, and European nations and
implement fiscal stimulus and lending programs to ensure continued production.
Further, lowering import tariffs could help address rising food prices and ensure a stable supply
of food, especially for food importing countries, which are more vulnerable to potential food
shortages. Additional measures, such as temporarily reducing value-added taxes and other
duties would further help stabilize world food markets.
Beyond fiscal policies, governments should ensure social distancing policies do not disrupt
essential food supply sectors, similar to the executive order signed by President Trump.
Countries have successfully done this.
For instance, in the Philippines, the government has permitted food-producing companies to
operate with 50% of their workforce despite a countrywide lockdown, and in Chile, salmon
farms and their employees are exempt from the lockdown restrictions. Ireland's Department
of Agriculture allowed all food production to continue close to normal over the coming weeks
but restricted gatherings to less than 100 people.
Pandemic May Bring Lasting Changes
Currently, experts believe that the U.S. domestic food supply chains are secure, and while short-
term disruptions may happen, they are not likely to be critical. Closed food processing plants can
be backed up by other facilities to avoid disruptions, and oversupply can be turned into
secondary processed goods (for instance, milk to ice cream and yogurts). Meanwhile, the
producers should be flexible and proactive in accessing the market and consumption changes and
adjusting their production and operations to the new model.
Globally, the pandemic is going to change the way supply chains are operating and force
businesses to reconsider their contracts and prepare for other crises in the future. The
situation today allows businesses to detect where the links in the supply chain are broken and to
strengthen them before the next emergency.
Further, governments should abandon the idea of food nationalism through import restrictions.
While it may make sense in theory to keep foodstuff exports within a domestic market due to
fears of supply shortages, in reality such policies only lead to higher prices, waste and,
eventually, food shortages.
Sharp increase in food imports during nationwide
May 21, 2020 08:10 AM NPT By: Republica | @RepublicaNepal
KATHMANDU, May 20: Import of food items has almost doubled in the last two months of
nationwide lockdown. This comes at a time the local farmers are complaining to take their
produce to the market due to the problem of transportation and shortage of labor.
The government enforced nationwide lockdown for the first time on March 24, and has extended
until June 2. Along with the extension of restrictive measures, the import of food items,
including rice, pulses, vegetables, fruits and dairy products, have been increasing, according to
the records of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies. In the first week of the
lockdown, import of cereals stood at 13,343 tons that has jumped to 24,365 tons as of Tuesday,
the eighth week of the lockdown.
During the same period, the import of pulses increased more than two folds to 8,532 tons while
that of fruits surged almost four folds to 3,541 tons. However, there was a nominal rise in
Urmila KC, assistant spokesperson of the ministry, said the increased household consumption
has triggered the import of edibles during lockdown. According to her, having low domestic
production of fruits, Nepal relies mainly on imported farm products that usually shoots up during
The ministry‘s record shows that the country now has 182,429 tons of rice in stock that includes
over 16,000 tons of the cereal with the government-owned Food Management and Trading
Company. Meanwhile, the country imported medicines worth Rs 2.71 billion and raw materials
of medicines worth Rs 614.99 million during the period. According to the ministry, the supply of
goods from all bordering points, except Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, the Nepal-China border that has
remained closed last January after the very first case of novel coronavirus was traced in
Kathmandu, is smooth.
Farmers upset over curbs on paddy cultivation: Haryana
Congress tells government
CHANDIGARH , MAY 20, 2020 19:43 IST
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. File | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR
Come up with better water conservation schemes for good yield, it says
Leader of the Opposition and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on
Wednesday said farmers were strongly opposing the BJP-JJP government‘s decision of
restricting paddy cultivation in parts of the State but the government was turning a blind eye
towards farmers demand.
―The farmers are not willing to accept the restrictions. The Congress stands with them. Despite
repeated requests for reconsideration of the decision, the government is adamant,‖ he said.
Haryana govt.issues fresh guidelines | Haryana government failed to help people: Congress
―The farmer is in the best position to decide what to sow and hence the Congress supports their
judgment. Such decisions should be taken with the consent of the farmer and especially at a time
when the world is fighting a pandemic,‖ said Mr. Hooda, addressing a video conference.
Mr. Hooda said the concern about depleting ground water was legitimate but putting restrictions
on paddy cultivation was not the solution. ―The government should take a pragmatic view of
things and take a positive stand towards ground water conservation schemes, which would
provide long-term solutions. Direct seeding of rice for sowing and hybrid seeds should be
encouraged, which will enable farmers to get a good crop in less time and with less water,‖ he
Haryana CM turns down Nitish’s offer, says ‘all Indians’ are State’s responsibility
Mr. Hooda also accused the State government of being ignorant towards the plight of the farmers
growing flowers and vegetables. ―Their crops are getting spoilt. Farmers from all over the State,
including Bhiwani, are forced to feed their produce to livestock as these are not being bought,
and even if they are bought, proper payment is not made,‖ he said.
Non-basmati exporters see opportunity amid Covid-19 as
crops fail elsewhere
They are looking to tap exports in Africa, South East Asia as paddy crop in Tahiland and Vietnam fails, other
exporting nations maintain buffer stocks
Virendra Singh Rawat | Lucknow Last Updated at May 20, 2020 02:33 IST
TREA is targetting to push non-basmati rice exports to Rs 40,000 crore by 2022.
Indian non-basmati rice players have spotted export opportunities amid the unfolding Covid-19
crisis across the globe, especially in Southeast Asian and African nations.
The failure of non-basmati paddy crop in Vietnam and Thailand, coupled with major producing
nations' attempt to buffer stocks to deal with the uncertain Covid-19 situation, has presented a
lucrative playground for Indian exporters.
―Given all these factors and the fact that India currently has three times the rice buffer stock, we
have a big opportunity to tap export destinations,‖ said Rajiv Kumar, executive director, The
Rice Exporters Association (TREA). He said the central government should give incentives to
exporters, so that their benefits could accrue to domestic players.
―Last year, non-basmati rice exports had come down by nearly 25 per cent, resulting in a huge
stockpile. The current year looks great for exporters,‖ he said, adding that export contracts have
been signed with Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. Similar opportunities exist in African nations,
including Nigeria.A major debilitating factor is a ban on paddy movement in Andhra Pradesh
and this is impeding exports from Kakinada port, which accounts for 35-40 per cent of annual
rice shipments. ―While there are other logistical issues related to the transportation of
commodities owing to the lockdown, the ban on the free movement of paddy is a big negative
since Kakinada is the anchorage port for rice consignments,‖ he informed.
Normally, paddy from the neighbouring states is brought for milling in Andhra Pradesh and
subsequently taken to ports for export.
While Indian non-basmati rice exports are valued at nearly Rs 22,000 crore, these had gone
down considerably last year following the withdrawal of a key tax incentive, which made the
domestic exports price uncompetitive. ―There is a big opportunity to increase non-basmati
rice exports by more than 20 per cent this year, if we are proactive in our approach and the
government extends support,‖ Kumar observed.
The industry has urged the Centre to allow a 5 per cent incentive under the Merchandise Exports
from India Scheme, until the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Products, a scheme for
exporters to reimburse taxes and duties, such as, coal cess and mandi tax, is implemented.
Technology is of vital importance to food security
Since it was first cultivated over 15,000 years ago, rice has been central to many civilizations. As
a staple food, it supports industry, inspires culture and feeds more than half of the world's
population. With the global population due to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, the global demand for
food is far from being met. We need to produce more food, but with less land.
Today, crops of hybrid rice have been planted in over half of China's total rice-growing areas and
are also grown all over Asia, the Americas and Africa, even in sandy areas and on seashores. So
why is hybrid rice so important and what do hybrid crops mean for the future of food security?
According to Zhang Jianping, director-general of the Center for Regional Economic Cooperation
at CAITE, hybrid rice has raised rice productivity in China, doubling yields. Now with about 98
percent self-sufficiency, China produces enough rice that it can export to other countries.
Referring to the importance of technology, Maximo Torero, chief economist and assistant
director-general of the Economic and Social Development Department at the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that the use of technology in agriculture can play a crucial
role in increasing crop productivity and creating more resistant varieties to ensure that farmers
get proper returns for their investments.
With the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political
Consultative Conference, known in China as the Two Sessions, approaching, Zhang said that
agriculture always occupies a prominent position in the Sessions because it is directly connected
with the economy. At the start of each year, the Communist Party of China Central Committee
and central government also release a related document covering the agricultural sector.
"Because China has the largest population in the world, that means we have to guarantee our
food security," he said.
But food security is also a global issue. Take the situation in Africa, for example, where many
countries are currently being affected by swarms of locusts, in addition to COVID-19 pandemic.
Catherine Kunyanga of the Food Security Center at the University of Nairobi said that due to the
pandemic, and issues like climate change, Kenya is already experiencing challenges to food
access and availability. Currently, most African countries rely on food imports and so "[Kenya
is] not able to produce enough [food] to be consumed by all Kenyans."
Kunyanga believes that the lack of technology and mechanization is behind the fact that many
African countries are unable to increase crop productivity and meet the nutritional requirement
of their people.
She added that although agriculture is the economic backbone of most African countries, most
African governments, including her own, have not given the sector the importance it deserves,
resulting in food insecurity.
"If the government invested in agriculture adequately, and even research in agriculture, in
technologies that can improve productivity, then I think we could produce enough for everyone
in Kenya and not have to rely on imports," she said.
Turning to the locust swarms ravaging Eastern Africa and particularly the Horn of Africa,
Kunyanga said that so far, the areas affected by locusts in the northern part of Kenya are mostly
not arable lands and so the impact has been limited. However, Kenyans fear that the locusts may
migrate to agricultural areas and if that happens, it will be difficult for Kenya to produce
"So, we are hoping that technologies and the strategies that the government has put in place will
actually be able to contain the spread of these locusts before the situation gets worse," she
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Home > Business > Nepal Stocks ‗92000 Tons of Rice‘ to Address COVID-19 Crisis
Nepal Stocks ‘92000 Tons of Rice’ to Address
So far, Nepal has reported 445 COVID-19 cases and two deaths.
Apart from striving to prevent and control coronavirus in the country, the Nepali Government
has managed to secure adequate food stock to relieve people from the food crisis.
So far, the Nepali Government has stocked 91,504 metric tonnes of rice with the Food
Management and Trading Company Limited and the private sector traders.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies, the Trading Company has
stocked 16,504 metric tonnes of rice grain while the private sectors stocked 75,000 metric
Other Essential Product Stocks include
Buckwheat 664 quintals
Beans 524 quintals
Wheat 557 tonnes
Lentils 16,099 tonnes
Salt 137,966 tonnes
Sugar 65,263 tonnes
Diesel 33,174 kl
Petrol 6,550 kl
Kerosene 2,142 kl
Aviation Fuel 7,034 kl
Cooking Gas 11,000 tonnes
Moreover, the Nepali Government is in the process of importing 83,967 tonnes of cooking oil.
So far, Nepal has reported 445 coronavirus positive cases and two death cases. Meanwhile, 45
patients were discharged after recovery.
Cambodia and IRRI partner to modernize, accelerate
Th signing ceremony to marl the cooperation agreement. Lanh Visal/AKP
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the International Rice
Research Institute (IRRI) have partnered to strengthen the cooperation in modernising
and enhancing the rice sector.
The agreement on a four-year Collaborative Work Plan for 2020-2023 was signed by
Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and Dr.
Yurdi Yasmi, IRRI‘s Regional Representative for Southeast Asia.
According to a press release issued at the signing ceremony, with the signing of the
Collaborative Work Plan, IRRI seeks to boost its collaboration with MAFF and other national
partners to enhance the commercialisation of the rice sector through value chain assessment and
strengthening and enhance productivity and resiliency through and utilisation, crop
improvement, and seed system development.
IRRI also work to enhance sustainable management of agricultural land through climate-smart
production techniques, optimisation of diversified land management options and landscape
monitoring, modeling, and planning and to promote agricultural modernisation through on-farm
mechanisation, post-harvest, by-product management.
Under the MAFF, other partners include the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development
Institute Council (CARDI), the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), the Development of
Agricultural Extension (DAE), as well as other government agencies and non-government
organisations, agriculture universities, and the private sector.
The agreement also has provisions to work with organisations within CGIAR, the world‘s largest
global agriculture network, of which IRRI is a founding institution.
―Cambodia is pleased to enter into increased collaboration with IRRI, our long-time partner and
ally in the development of our rice sector,‖ said Mr Sakhon. ―The Royal Government places
strategic importance in strengthening the role of the agricultural sector, with rice-based farming
systems central in generating jobs, ensuring food security, reducing poverty, and development
―The new Work Plan will be key to achieving our national policy goals and contribute to the
country‘s economic transformation,‖ he added.
Dr. Yurdi Yasmi of IRRI recalled the partnership between IRRI and Cambodia‘s MAFF on the
rice sector, underlining the new collaboration will contribute to enhance the sustainable rice
development in Cambodia.
―As the country prioritises the modernisation of its rice sector, IRRI is excited to work more
closely with our partners to achieve their R&D objectives, and contribute to the nation‘s
advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals,‖ Dr Yurdi said.
IRRI‘s supports for Cambodia‘s rice sector began in 1960‘s, and through IRRI‘s continued
support, Cambodia was able to significantly increase its rice production from 2.4 million tons in
1993 to 10.8 million tons in 2019. Chea Vannak/AKP
New rice collaboration inked
Sok Chan / Khmer Times
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and International Rice Research Institute
yesterday ink the collaborative work plan for 2020-2023. KT/Tep Sony
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the International Rice Research Institute
(IRRI) inked their collaborative work plan for 2020-2023 yesterday.
The agreement aims to further strengthen the cooperation between the two organisations for the
crops research and development activities that has been going on for many years.
IRRI‘s support for Cambodia‘s rice sector began in the 1960s, when it trained Cambodian
scientists and collected more than 4,000 local rice varieties for conservation in the International
Rice Genebank. Then in the late 70s and early 80s, many traditional rice varieties were lost
because of conflict and famine. The IRRI was able to repatriate 766 varieties to replenish the
country‘s rice diversity.
The partnership was formalised with the first memorandum of understanding in 1986 and,
through the IRRI‘s continued support, Cambodia was able to significantly increase its rice
production from 2.4 million tonnes of in 1993 to 10.8 million tonnes in 2019. Transformation in
rice-based farming systems have also played a key role in the country‘s recent economic
development and growth.
According to the collaborative work plan 2020-2023, the IRRI seeks to boost its collaborations
with the ministry along with other national partners to achieve key goals.
These include enhancing the commercialisation of the rice sector through value chain assessment
and strengthening, and productivity and resiliency through germplasm conservation and
utilisation, crop improvement and seed system development.
Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries, said that over the next four years,
both parties will drive the crops production chain and attempt to boost exports.
Sakhon added that the IRRI would help Cambodia to research new types of rice breeding. He
added that Cambodia has to find the new rice seedlings to ensure resilience against both climate
change and pests.
―While some seedling is of low quality, we also have to further strengthen, and improve our
ability to produce the seedling response to market needs and exports,‖ he added.
BRRI Hybrid Dhan - 5, BRRI Hybrid Dhan - 3 bring
ray of hope to Gopalganj farmers
Manoj Saha, Gopalganj
Published at 04:31 pm May 20th, 2020
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
There was bumper yield in all areas in the district due to timely rainfall, favourable
weather and absence of disasters like storm
Cultivation of BRRI Hybrid Dhan - 5 and BRRI Hybrid Dhan - 3, high-yielding rice
varieties developed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, has raised a ray of hope
among the farmers of Gopalganj district.
According to the Rice Research Institute of Gopalganj region, about 10.86 metric tons of
BRRI Hybrid Dhan - 5 on five-acre land and 9.67 metric tons of BRRI-3 on 3-hectare
land have been produced this year.
Md Milon, Kotalipara Upazila Agriculture Officer (UAO), said BRRI-Dhan is more
profitable and its spending cost is less than the conventional variety.
The seeds of the two varieties produce more rice — 11 to 12 tons per hectare — as
compared to only seven tons per hectare produced by other varieties in the same planting
areas,‖ said Milon.Many local farmers expressed their interest in cultivating the varieties,
There was bumper yield in all areas in the district due to timely rainfall, favourable
weather and absence of disasters like a storm.
Farmers can grow the new varieties in 140-145 days, and its neck is hard enough to
survive storms. Each paddy plant of the varieties contains 12-15 bunches, which helps
deliver higher yields, BRRI scientists informed.
―It is a new variety of Boro paddy and farmers get good yield at very low cost. Local
farmers are showing their interest to cultivate this variety on their lands,‖ said Sayeedi
Rahman, scientific officer of BRRI, Gopalganj region.
Hybrid-5 and 3 are thinner than other high-yielding varieties developed earlier. The new
variety is rich in food value as it contains 23.4 percent carbohydrates.
They are resilient to diseases, natural calamities and adverse weather conditions and it is
suitable for cultivation during the boro season.
He also said most of the hybrid rice varieties are imported and some of those were
developed from foreign paternal lines.
―Farmers won‘t need to buy imported seed at a higher price each year, they can now
easily produce seeds from this hybrid variety.‖
―This hybrid variety‘s rice is crispier than other similar rice varieties - a quality more
desirable by the consumers,‖ said the scientist.
farmer has to spend Tk 200-250 for per kg seed of foreign hybrid variety but now he can
buy the same amount of the new local BRRI-5, and 3 only at Tk 35-50.
The demand for the new grain of rice is very high compared to conventional varieties, he
Thanda Sheikh, a farmer of Harinhati village of Kotalipara, said he has cultivated the
varieties on 1.5-acre land at a cost of Tk 15,000.
He has already harvested 5.18 tons of rice, he also said.
―I hope I will make a profit of Tk 40, 000 by selling the rice this time, whereas I earned
only Tk 21, 000 last year by cultivating the conventional varieties,‖ he further said.
He added that he is very happy as he got bumper yield, which is a record yield for him
than previous years.
Dr Khairul Alam Bhuiyan, head of BRRI, Gopalganj region, said the production of the
varieties is better than conventional paddies.
BRRI Dhan-5 and 3 a short duration and drought tolerant paddy variety innovated by
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), has gradually been gaining popularity among
Baka Sheikh, a farmer of Patgati Sardarpara village in Tungipara upazila, expressed his
happiness over cultivating the varieties.
Dr Khairul Alam Bhuiyan said the conventional variety is being replaced by the new
variety which is a good sign for the region in terms of boosting yield.
The research institute sources said a project of 100 plots have been launched for
cultivating the varieties on 40-acre land in Gopalganj, Narail, Bagerhat and Pirojpur
districts this year.
Anyone can produce seeds from the paddy as the Hybrid-5 has been developed from local
paternal lines. Farmers can collect seeds of this hybrid variety from us at lower cost and
BRRI scientists will provide technical support to them.
The production of the new variety has been set to boost farmers‘ rice yields and food
security in the country, said Sayeedi Rahman, scientific officer of BRRI.
Location Matters Most in 2020 U.S. Rice Crop Progress
By Steve Linscombe
MOUNTAIN HOME, TX -- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA)
National Agricultural Statistics Service Information (NASS) as of Sunday, May 17, the
following percentages of the U.S. rice crop were planted-emerged: Arkansas (76-58), California
(88-25), Louisiana (91-86), Mississippi (76-49), Missouri (60-46), and (Texas (97-92).
The rice areas of California, Texas, and southwest Louisiana have had excellent planting
conditions for the most part.
California rice country has had a very dry spring, which allowed growers to get in early. "We
just had some rain this past weekend, and when growers saw rain in the forecast, they pushed to
get as much as they could in," said Bruce Linquist, rice extension agronomist at UC Davis. "I
think by the end of this week we will be close to 95 percent planted. This puts us about five days
to a week ahead of a normal year." Christine Wylie, who farms near Colusa, has completed
planting although her operation's acreage was limited by a 75 percent water allotment this year.
The report on the Texas crop comes from Scott Savage in Matagorda County who said that
Texas is basically planted and probably 50-60 percent has a permanent flood. Dustin Harrell,
rice specialist with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, estimates that 85 percent of the
southwest Louisiana crop is flooded and over 25 percent has reached the panicle initiation stage.
Both Savage and Harrell said that other than one cool snap, growing conditions have been
excellent for the southern belt crop.
Things have been a bit more challenging in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and north
Louisiana, where continual rainy weather impeded planting. However, more favorable weather
over the past 2-3 weeks has facilitated planting progress in some areas of the region. Some
producers are completely planted, but others have yet to put a seed into the ground, depending on
LA farmer Richard Fontenot loads the planter
Jarrod Hardke, rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas, said the first Arkansas rice has
gone to flood over the previous week or so, and that rains this past weekend in northeast
Arkansas may lead to some of the potential rice acreage there going to Prevented Planting.
Geographic variations in planting progress exist for Mississippi growers as well, according to
Bobby Golden, agronomist with Mississippi State University. "I would agree with the NASS
numbers for Mississippi. Some areas of the state, like the far north delta and part of the mid-
delta, are lagging behind due to persistent wet weather. Rains have been sporadic and non-
uniform throughout the rice growing region, recently."
"Little rice in the state has been planted over the last few days because of wet conditions," said
David Martin, with Martin Rice Company in Bernie, Missouri. "We are around 50-60 percent
planted and all the emerged rice looks good, but needs warmer weather, fertilizer, and at least
one more herbicide application. The NASS numbers for Missouri should hold."
Elliot Maschmann, with RiceTec, agrees that Missouri is 60-65 percent planted but said some
producers have not been able to get in the field for three weeks because of persistent rain.
"The north Louisiana rice crop is 80 percent planted," said Scott Franklin, who farms in Rayville.
"The region has progressed well in the past two weeks as far as planting." Marley Oldham with
Kennedy Rice Mill said their growers are 75 percent planted overall, with the majority of that in
long grain varieties, while over 95 percent of the medium grain acreage in north Louisiana is
planted. Jason Waller, who farms near Mer Rouge, is 60 percent planted with no fields flooded
According to USDA prospective planting estimates, rice acreage is expected to rise above 2019
levels in all six states, totaling a 12.1 percent national bump in plantings
USA Rice Daily
Rice up, crawfish down in Louisiana rotation system
Louisiana rice off to good start. Crawfish struggle.
Ron Smith | May 20, 2020
Louisiana rice farmers are off to one of the best early season starts in recent memory,
accompanied by higher prices and increased acreage.
The fate of a key rotation enterprise, however, is headed in the opposite direction. The crawfish
market has burrowed into the mud of COVID-19 restrictions as consumers are not going to
restaurants or gathering for crawdad boils.
Related: Rice market up, subject to volatility
With limited markets, crawfish producers are enduring a shortened season.
"It's almost completely opposite of past years," says Dustin Harrell, professor and research
coordinator, Rice Research Station, Rayne, La. "Rice jumped back into potentially being
Harrell says the past four or five years took a toll on rice farmers. "They have suffered floods and
lost a lot of their crops. Yields four of the last five years have been poor, and rice prices have not
been the best. Producers have been just skating by.
"Crawfish had helped keep rice growers in business," he adds. "Acreage devoted to crawfish
jumped to nearly 250,000 in southwest Louisiana, where almost all of U.S. crawfish are grown."
A combination of supply and demand factors, some prodded by the coronavirus pandemic,
makes rice one of the most profitable crop options available to Mid-South farmers.
On the other hand, "Crawfish pond production is heading downhill," says Mark Shirley, LSU
area Extension agent, Abbeville, La. "Some producers were beginning to drain ponds in late
April. Still, local demand around Mother's Day remained good and producers had enough
crawfish to meet demand in coming weeks and thereafter. But total supply is starting to go
Shirley says restaurant demand in March and April dropped following COVID-restrictions. The
live market across the Southeast is down. "A tremendous volume is not moving, right at peak
Shirley says producers "had nowhere to go with their harvest. Buyers had to slow down and put
producers on a quota or limited the number of days they could fish."
Harrell says the rice/crawfish rotation works well together, either as every other year alternate
crop system or as a permanent crawfish operation with rice as a forage.
Either way, rice serves as forage for crawfish. "Producers can grow rice, harvest it and leave the
ratoon crop for crawfish. That's common. It's a great symbiotic relationship," he says.
Growers who keep crawfish as the permanent crop plant rice late as a forage for crawfish and put
little money into the rice.
"The rotation is a dynamic system," Harrell says. "Crawfish have been keeping rice producers in
business, and now crawfish are losing business and rice is one of most lucrative crops available,
compared to other row crops."
He says rice producers hope the trend continues for the rice market and that crawfish come back
and demand for rice stays up.
Rice looks good now
"We're off to a good start," Harrell says. "We planted most of the southwest Louisiana rice in
good time and with dry weather. March temperatures averaged about 10 degrees higher than
normal, which caused the rice crop to jump out of the ground. The water-seeded rice took off and
grew quickly. It was an almost perfect start."
He says an April cold spell of about 10 days slowed the crop a bit. "We saw some visual stress
symptoms on rice, but weather warmed up and the rice grew out of it.
"The yield potential is higher at this point than it has been for the last five years," he says. "But
something can always come in, a disease or a hurricane. But for now, yield potential is high, and
prices are better than they've been in a long time."
LSU AgCenter economist Michael Deliberto, in a recent AgCenter news release, noted several
reasons why the economic outlook for rice is positive.
He says supplies are tight and demand has been good. "These are the highest U.S. prices in at
least seven years,‖ he says.
July rice is selling for roughly $23 a barrel, and September rice was priced north of $19 a barrel,
which is 162 pounds.
―I think that number could go higher,‖ Deliberto says.
Current advantages include large sales of U.S. long-grain milled rice to Haiti, expectations of
much tighter U.S. supplies later this market year and higher and rising global trading prices.
―Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, it‘s hard to say just how high prices will go. Asian
exporters are starting to relax some of the export restrictions,‖ Deliberto says.
The trend could change. Deliberto says lower prices could come from a larger than expected
switch from soybeans to rice in Arkansas, the largest rice-producing state.
Other issues may affect the crop before harvest, Harrell says.
"With the rains over the past few weeks, some growers did not get nitrogen out on dry ground.
Some opted to hold flood water and apply nitrogen into the flood."
That works, Harrell says, but nitrogen efficiency is a lot lower than when applied onto dry
"If producers can't apply nitrogen to dry ground, we recommend they apply into standing flood
with three separate applications instead of one big one. Spoon feed nitrogen.
"We recommend 100 pounds of urea in three different timings, seven to 10 days apart. That
helps improve nitrogen efficiency. The plants take it up faster, before the nutrient is lost."
He cautions growers to look for chinch bugs. "We have seen some cinch bugs in the region.
Because of the dry season, chinch bugs are more prolific. I've never had so many chinch bug
calls. Typically, we don't see many, but they are everywhere this year."
Harrell says the pest is relatively easy to manage with insecticides, including CruiserMaxx seed
treatments; however, Dermacor X100 seed treatment is more common in southern Louisiana due
to crawfish production. "It's not labeled for crawfish, but it is believed to be safer than other seed
It could be a heavy chinch bug year, he says. "Scout, watch, be ready to treat. Flood the field or
use a pyrethroid."A pest typically considered more of a nuisance than a serious problem may
demand more attention. "We've seen the channel apple snail this year and it is a growing invasive
pest in south Louisiana. Typically, it's been a nuisance pest for crawfish. They get into the traps
and producers have to separate them from the crawfish."
The snails also burrow into the levees and can weaken and break them. They also attach to grates
and clog them up.
"Recently, for the first time, a grower has reported significant damage to rice plants," Harrell
says. "He held water over the winter and water-seeded the next crop. Snails ate the rice stand. He
had to treat for snails and replant."
Harrell says currently snail control options are limited. "We can use copper sulfate, but that also
kills crawfish." He says copper sulfate is labeled in rice for algae control.
"We recommend that if a grower had snails in the past in surface water used for irrigation, he
should switch to well water, if that option is available, to prevent reintroducing the snail into the
crawfish ponds."He recommends looking for snail egg masses above the waterline or in grasses
along the field edge. "Kill those with crop oil."
Harrell doesn't believe snail damage to rice plants will be a recurring problem, with proper
management. In drill-seeded rice and surface water that contains snails, he recommends no
flooding until just before tillering. "Snails probably will not cause a problem, and rice will
outgrow vegetative damage. The grower with the field completely eaten had an already
established population of snails."In the meantime, rice producers are hoping to capitalize on the
promising start for the 2020 crop and hope as the economy begins to recover crawfish will dig
out of t
Covid-19 drives Mexico to lift Brazilian rice import
Total shipments of 60,000 tonnes expected in May
20 May 2020
Mexico has lifted its barriers for Brazilian rice imports as Covid-19 limits supplies
from the US.
Focus on South Korea
By Chris Lyddon
The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is a small-scale producer of grains, except for rice, leaving
it highly dependent on imports for food as well as animal feed.
In its Grain Market Report from the end of February, the International Grains Council (IGC) puts
South Korea‘s total grains imports in 2019-20 at 15.5 million tonnes, unchanged from the
previous estimate and up from 13.7 million in 2018-19. Maize imports for 2019-20 are forecast
at 11.3 million tonnes, unchanged from last month, with 2018-19 imports at 9.8 million tonnes.
The total includes 4.1 million tonnes of wheat, also an unchanged forecast, up from 3.9 million
the year before.
The IGC also expects South Korea to import 600,000 tonnes of rice in 2019-20, up from an
estimate made a month earlier of 400,000 and also up on imports of 300,000 in 2018-19.
South Korea‘s soybean imports are put at 1.5 million tonnes in 2019-20, unchanged from the
earlier forecast, with the previous year‘s imports at 1.4 million.
In an Oct. 30, 2019, update, the USDA attaché said official government data released at the end
of June put wheat production in 2018 at 25,788 tonnes, based on a yield of 3.91 tonnes a hectare,
down by about 3% from the year before because of frequent rain during the growing season. The
government said at the end of July that the wheat area for the 2019 crop was 3,736 hectares,
triggering a 46% cut in the USDA‘s estimate of the South Korean crop to 13,000 tonnes.
*Projected // Source: US Department of Agriculture
―The projected decrease in production is due to the lack of demand for locally produced wheat,
leading farmers to plant less wheat as they double crop in rice paddy areas,‖ the attaché said,
explaining that official production data will not be available until June 2020.
For maize, the attaché gave a 2018 crop figure of 78,012 tonnes based on Korean government
figures released at the end of June 2019, a rise of 7% from the previous year on improved yield.
The USDA in Seoul forecast 2019-20 maize consumption at 10.8 million tonnes, with 8.4
million for feed and 2.4 million for food, seed and industrial uses. Feed maize accounts for 42%
of the total ingredients used for compound feed, with feed wheat at 6%.
―Food, seed, and industrial (FSI) corn consumption is expected to stay around 2.4 million tonnes
to meet stable demand for high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other corn products from Korean
food industries,‖ the attaché said.
Total compound feed production is forecast to reach a record 20.5 million tonnes in 2019-20,
according to the attaché.
―This record volume is based on strong growth in poultry and beef cattle inventories, which will
partly offset the anticipated reduction in swine inventories affected by the Sept. 17, 2019,
outbreak of African swine fever (ASF),‖ the attaché said. ―Poultry and beef cattle numbers are
expected to be strong as they may replace the reduction of pork production and consumption.‖
Outside animal feed, the attaché said ―corn processors use Genetically Engineered (GE) corn,
non-biotech Identity Preserved (IP) corn, and conventional corn to produce corn starch, HFCS
and corn flour.‖
―Perceived public concern about biotech products continues to influence decisions regarding
imported processing corn, especially corn that is used to manufacture cooking oil and HFCS,‖
the attaché said. ―Many food processing companies have been reluctant to use ingredients
sourced from biotech corn. Some food processing companies utilizing corn starch products are
sourcing ingredients imported from China, since these items are reportedly derived from non-
In an April 2, 2019, update, the attaché put South Korean production of barley at 151,403 tonnes
in 2018, up 38% from the previous year, on the basis of a sharp increase in area, adding that
production had fallen sharply in 2012, when a government purchasing program ended, but has
rebounded since and is expected to remain constant.
In a March 1, 2020, report on the oilseeds sector, the USDA attaché cited crop figures for 2018,
from the farm minister and Statistics Korea (KOSTAT), of 80,804 tonnes for soybeans, 11,002
for peanuts, 25,129 for sesame and 37,377 for perilla. In 2019, soybean production rose to
105,340 tonnes, while sesame output was up slightly at 12,896 tonnes, while figures for the other
crops will not be made available until May 2020.
―Soybeans are the most heavily consumed oilseed in Korea,‖ the attaché said, forecasting total
domestic consumption in 2020-21 at around 1.39 million tonnes, unchanged from the previous
year, ―amid stagnant domestic production and flat consumer demand consistent with a mature
The total is expected to include 1 million tonnes for crushing, 340,000 tonnes for domestic food
use in products like tofu, soymilk and soy sauce, and 53,000 tonnes used for domestic animal
feed and waste.
―All domestic production goes to food use,‖ the attaché said. ―Future growth in overall soybean
consumption is expected to be minimal.
―Consumption for crushing will be constant at the level of 1 million tonnes as long as CJ
Corporation, the largest Korean soybean crusher, continues soybean crushing in their flexible
crushing facilities, which are convertible depending on the comparison of crushing margins
between rapeseed and soybeans.‖
In an annual report published April 1, 2019, the USDA attaché cited figures from the Korea Feed
Association (KFA) and Korea Flour Millers Industry Association (KOFMIA) showing 2017-18
milling wheat use in the country to be 2.186 million tonnes.
The attaché expected 2.6 million tonnes of the forecast 4.1 million of wheat to be imported in
2019-20 to be used for milling. The figure includes wheat and pasta imports on a wheat
equivalent basis. Demand for milling wheat, therefore, was expected to remain steady.
According to the attaché, South Korea‘s milling wheat suppliers are the United States, which
sent 732,000 tonnes in 2018-19, followed by Australia (583,000 tonnes) and Canada (118,000
tonnes), with a further 3,000 coming from undefined other sources.
The (KOFMIA) website names seven large milling companies. They are Daehan Milling Co.
Ltd., Sajo Dongawon Co. Ltd., Daesun Milling Co. Ltd., Samyang Corporation, CJ CheilJedang,
Samhwa Powder Co. and Hantop Co. Ltd.
In a quarterly update on world trade in wheat flour published Jan 23, the IGC forecast South
Korea‘s flour imports in 2019-20 at 25,000 tonnes (wheat equivalent), down from its earlier
forecast, made in September, of 50,000 tonnes.
*Projected // Source: US Department of Agriculture
In a Dec. 12, 2019, update on rice production, the USDA attaché cited figures released on Nov.
12, 2019, by KOSTAT showing the country‘s 2019 rice production at 3.744 million tonnes,
down on a September estimate of 3.780 million, and also down on the 2018 production of 3.868
million tonnes. The fall reflected lower area and yield.
The attaché explained in a Jan. 28, 2020, update that ―under the 2019 rice Tariff Rate Quota
(TRQ), Korea purchased a total of 408,700 tonnes of rice (milled basis) from three countries: the
United States, China and Vietnam.‖
The US share of that was 32.8%, 5.9 percentage points lower than in the previous year.
―The slow pace of sale auctions for imported table rice in Korea has continued since 2014,
resulting in unsold imported rice accumulating every year,‖ the report said. ―The unsold rice
loses quality in storage over time and usually in Korea is then converted for alcohol processing.‖
The attaché put Korea‘s calendar year 2019 rice exports at just 52,663 tonnes, most of which was
accounted for by a 50,000-tonne donation under the Food Assistance Convention (FAC), and a
1,000-tonne donation under the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve.
Dominguez schools Imee Marcos: Masagana
program left farmers in debt
(UPDATED) Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III tells Senator Imee Marcos that the rice
program during her father's regime led to the bankruptcy of some 800 banks
Published 6:50 PM, May 20, 2020
Updated 11:00 PM, May 20, 2020
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III corrected claims
of Senator Imee Marcos that Masagana 99, her late father's rice program, was an "effective use"
Masagana 99 was the agricultural rice production program implemented by the late dictator
It was discontinued because the government took in massive foreign loans to finance the
program. When farmers were unable to pay up, it placed great stress on rural banks, and in turn,
affected the country's overall fiscal health.
The foreign loans were part of the massive debt left by the Marcos patriarch.
Other experts also claimed that the rice variety, developed by the International Rice Research
Institute, was highly dependent on fertilizers and pesticides that were derived from both
petroleum and chemical derivatives. When oil prices spiraled, the cost of production was so high
that farming no longer became a profitable enterprise. (READ: The tragedy of Martial Law)
Senator Marcos proposed the revival of the program to assist farmers affected by the coronavirus
"I was the secretary of agriculture who cleaned up the mess that was left by Masagana 99. There
were about 800 rural banks that were bankrupted by that program and we had to rescue them,"
Dominguez said.Dominguez was agriculture secretary during the presidency of Corazon Aquino.
Marcos then went on to say that "the success perhaps was not in banking, but the success was in
Dominguez debunked Marcos again. "We never exported rice [during that time], ma'am," he told
Marcos replied: "I prefer to stick to the finance data for now. But in the meantime, iba 'yung
ating data, tsaka na lang tayo magdiskusyon (our data is different, let's discuss this some other
At that point, Marcos cut off the discussion to tackle other matters related to the pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte once said he wanted his own version of the Masagana 99 program.
"'Yung Biyayang Dagat niya pati 'yung Masagana 99, that was the time na hindi tayo nag-import
talaga ng pagkain," Duterte said in 2016.
(The Biyayang Dagat and Masagana 99, that was the time when we didn't import food.)
In 2017, Duterte launched Masaganang Ani 200, which followed a similar scheme and aimed to
raise rice yield to around 200 cavans per hectare to stop, if not minimize, importation of rice.
But to date, the Philippines is the world's top rice importer. (READ: Philippines to remain
world's top rice importer until 2021)
This is the second time that Dominguez and Marcos clashed during the coronavirus crisis.
Last April, Dominguez rejected Marcos' proposal to defer debt obligations, even calling the
"Debt moratorium has not crossed our mind. It was never entertained or will ever be a part of our
crisis response measures," Dominguez said in a strongly-worded statement on April 14. –
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana opt for more cotton acreage
over labour-intensive rice
CHANDIGARH, MAY 21, 2020 18:08 IST
They anticipate labour shortages without migrant workers; State governments are also
advising them to opt out of water-guzzling rice
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have sown more cotton this kharif season as against the
corresponding period last year on account of a possible labour shortage in future. Both
governments have discouraged farmers from growing rice, officials told The Hindu.
Director, Punjab Agriculture Department, Sutantar Airi, said, ―Cotton has already been sown in
nearly 3.6 lakh hectare, which is around 10,000 hectare more than the corresponding period of
last year.‖In neighbouring Haryana, farmers had sown cotton in 5.11 lakh hectares till May 19.
Last year, the area under cotton cultivation up to the same period was 4.2 lakh hectares,
according to government data.
‘Luxury of choice’
―Cotton is a less labour intensive crop than paddy (rice). Farmers are currently sowing cotton as
they are apprehensive about the return of the migrant labour by June-July, when the sowing of
rice commences. Labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have expertise in planting paddy but
with many of them having returned to their native places, farmers here, who have the luxury of
choice between crops, are going for cotton,‖ said Rakesh Rathi, former president of India Cotton
Association Limited (ICAL).
In Punjab and Haryana, Bt cotton is sown in over 95% of the total area under cotton cultivation,
the remaining 5% of cultivable area usually has indigenous (desi) cotton varieties. Cotton is
usually planted from mid-April to till late-May in most parts of Punjab and Haryana.
―Farmers are preferring to sow cotton wherever its feasible. Paddy is a labour intensive crop in
comparison to cotton and hence farmers don‘t want to take a chance. I am sure the area under
cotton cultivation will increase this season,‖ said Gun Parkash, Bharatiya Kisan Union‘s Haryana
Jagraj Dhandi, Joint Director, Haryana Agriculture Department, said, ―The area under cotton has
increased as the government is discouraging sowing of water-guzzling rice and going for crop-
diversification this year. Also, labour shortage is another reason that farmers are planting more
cotton as many would want to mitigate risks to the minimum.‖
The State Agriculture Department‘s Mr. Airi said that the government was providing thrust to
crop-diversification, and hence the area under paddy will fall, and the area under other crops will
Cyclone Amphan kills 72 in West Bengal, CM Mamata
Banerjee announces compensation
PTI Kolkata/Bhubaneswar | Updated on May 21, 2020 Published on May 21, 2020
Villagers walk on a road during a storm due to Cyclone Amphan at Kakdwip near Sunderbans area in South 24
Parganas district of West Bengal, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. - PTI
A powerful cyclone Amphan that tore into West Bengal has killed 72 people and completely
devastated two districts, even as Kolkata and several parts of the State wore a battered look on
Thursday, a day after the storm left thousands of people homeless, washed away bridges and
swamped low-lying areas.
The fiercest cyclone to hit West Bengal in 100 years that destroyed mud houses and agriculture
crops, and uprooted trees and electric poles also wreaked havoc in Odisha damaging power and
telecom infrastructure in several coastal districts. Odisha government officials estimated it has
affected around 44.8 lakh people in the State.
―So far as per the reports we have received, 72 people have died in the state due to Cyclone
Amphan. Two districts — North and South 24 Parganas — are completely devastated. We have
to rebuild those districts from scratch. I would urge the Central government to extend all help to
the state,‖ Banerjee told reporters after conducting a review meeting with officials.
―I will visit the affected areas very soon. The restoration work will start soon. A large part of
North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata are facing massive power cut since last evening. Even
telephone and mobile connections are down,‖ she said. ―I have never witnessed such a fierce
cyclone and destruction in my life. I would request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and
visit Cyclone Amphan-affected areas.‖
The Chief Minister also announced a compensation of ₹2 lakh to ₹2.5 lakh for the family
members of each of the deceased. Besides North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata, the
districts of East Midnapore and Howrah were the worst hit as portions of several dilapidated
buildings came crashing down in several places.
Senior officials of the West Bengal government said it was too early to estimate the exact death
toll or damage to property as the worst hit areas were still not accessible.
‗Worse than corona‘
In Kolkata, hundreds of cars were overturned in the strong winds with speed up to 125 kmph that
also felled trees and electricity poles blocking key arterial roads and intersections. Large parts of
Kolkata and other affected districts went without power. Mobile and internet services were also
disrupted as the fierce cyclone had damaged several communication towers.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Amphan is the fiercest cyclone to hit
West Bengal in the last 100 years. It said the cyclone has weakened significantly and moved to
Bangladesh where 10 people have been killed.
Banerjee, who has been monitoring the situation at state secretariat Nabanna since Tuesday
night, said the impact of Amphan was ―worse than coronavirus‖. ―The situation is very serious.
We are in a state of disaster,‖ the TMC chief was earlier quoted as having said in an official
statement. No bridges exist, electricity lines have been completely disabled and damaged,
Banerjee said while describing the situation in the worst hit districts.
In several shelter homes in the affected districts, people were seen jostling for food and shelter
ignoring the social distancing norms due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than five lakh people were already evacuated to safety by the state government.
―It is not the city where I have grown up... it seems to be a destroyed one. It seems there was a
war yesterday... I cannot believe that this is my Kolkata,‖ said Sudhir Chakraborty, a resident of
south Kolkata‘s Rashbehari area.
Packing heavy rain and winds with speeds of up to 190 kmph, the cyclone barrelled through
coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas of Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday unleashing
copious rain and windstorm.
Rescue and relief operations
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) reviewed the rescue and relief operations
in West Bengal and Odisha at a meeting in Delhi and was told that minimal loss of lives was
reported due to accurate forecast by the IMD and timely deployment of NDRF troops.
Headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, the NCMC was told by the chief secretaries of West
Bengal and Odisha that timely and accurate forecast by the IMD and advance deployment of the
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) facilitated in evacuation of about five lakh people in
West Bengal and about two lakh in Odisha.
This has resulted in minimal loss of human lives, considering the fact that the intensity of the
Amphan was next only to that of the super cyclone that struck Odisha in 1999 causing large scale
devastation, an official statement said in Delhi.
The Food Corporation of India will also ensure adequate availability of food grains, especially
rice, to West Bengal so that marooned people are provided immediate sustenance. The Power
Ministry and Department of Telecommunications will also assist in the early restoration of
services in both the states.
The Railways, which suffered major damages to its infrastructure, is in the process of restarting
its operations at the earliest, the statement said.
The West Bengal government informed there were major damages to agriculture, power and
telecommunication facilities in the affected areas. Odisha informed that damages have been
mainly limited to agriculture.
At Kolkata central avenue, a small concrete temple situated at the base of a banyan tree was
uprooted. According to officials, more than 1,000 mobile towers across the state and city have
been completely destroyed. Streets and homes in low lying areas of Kolkata were swamped with
rainwater. Four jetties in South 24 Parganas also collapsed on Wednesday night due to the storm.
According to the state agricultural department, paddy crop in districts of Burdwan, West
Midnapore and Hooghly has been completely destroyed due to the savage cyclone.
Teams of the NDRF and State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) have been working on a war footing
to clear the roads blocked by the falling trees. The NDRF is moving additional teams to West
Bengal to speed up restoration work, especially in Kolkata.
Centre offers full support
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said no stone will be left unturned in helping those affected by
the cyclone. ―Have been seeing visuals from West Bengal on the devastation caused by Cyclone
Amphan,‖ he tweeted. In this challenging hour, the entire nation stands in solidarity with West
Bengal, the prime minister said.
Top officials are closely monitoring the situation and also working in close coordination with the
West Bengal government. No stone will be left unturned in helping the affected, he said.―Praying
for the well-being of the people of the state. Efforts are on to ensure normalcy.‖
The prime minister also said his thoughts are with the people of Odisha as the State bravely
battles the effects of the cyclone.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to chief ministers of Odisha and West Bengal — Naveen
Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee — and assured them of all central help to deal with the prevailing
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