Malawi seeks divine intervention as drought, pests threaten maize crop

By Frank Phiri

LILONGWE, Jan 19 (Reuters) - A dry spell and worsening pest
infestation are threatening Malawi's staple maize crop,
prompting President Peter Mutharika on Friday to call on
government officials to lead prayers for rain.

Impoverished Malawi is periodically hit by food shortages as
the tropical southern African country relies heavily on rain-fed
agriculture and most of its maize is grown on small plots by
subsistence farmers.

Cargill to change German starch plant to wheat processing

HAMBURG, Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness Cargill
plans to expand its starches and sweeteners factory in
Krefeld, Germany, and switch to using wheat as a raw material,
it said on Friday.

The Krefeld plant currently produces starches and sweeteners
from corn for products including jams, sweets, chewing gum and
custard powder.

"We are in the planning process. Work will be completed in
2020," a Cargill spokeswoman said without providing figures on
production capacity or tonnage of wheat involved.

TABLE-Japan's use of corn in animal feed rises in November

TOKYO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Japan's use of corn in
animal feed rose to 47.2 percent in November from a year
earlier, preliminary data from the Ministry of
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries showed on Friday.
Below is a table based on preliminary data from the
farm ministry for Japan's compound feed shipments in
tonnes and each grain's percentage share in feed
production:

UPDATE 2-United States wins WTO chicken ruling against China

(Adds Chinese response)

GENEVA, Jan 19 (Reuters) - The United States largely won a
World Trade Organization ruling on Thursday that China had
failed to comply with an earlier ruling against its punitive
tariffs on U.S. broiler chickens.

The ruling means Beijing has failed in a bid to use one of
Washington's own favourite trade policy tools - punitive tariffs
- against U.S. producers, and will be obliged to lower its
tariffs, unless it appeals within 20 days.

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FACTBOX-What happens during a U.S. government shutdown

Jan 18 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress are racing to meet a midnight Friday deadline to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the U.S. government open and prevent agencies from shutting down.

During government shutdowns, employees in all three branches of government are vulnerable to furlough, or temporary unpaid leave. Other "essential" workers, including those dealing with public safety and national security, continue working, some with and others without pay.

China to hold officials to account for protecting farmland

SHANGHAI, Jan 19 (Reuters) - China plans to hold government
officials to account for the protection of farmland, part of its
efforts to guarantee food production amid soaring levels of
urbanisation.

Local governments will be held fully responsible for
retaining and protecting arable land under their jurisdiction,
and for improving land quality, according to new guidelines
issued by China's cabinet, the State Council, on Thursday.

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