Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals

ISAP Monthly E-Newsletter, Volume 10, Issue:7 (July , 2017)

INDEX

- ISAP Activities

Success Story (Agriclinic-Agribusiness Program)

Science & Technology

Prominent Contributors to Agriculture

Do you know

- News Highlights

ISAP FILE

ISAP, the parent body of IAP, which also started as an electronic group in 2001, achieved the following highlights since then:
  • ISAP has set-up 150 FPOs and is in the process of developing 100 more FPOs in the States of Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Telangana.
  • ISAP web page has been liked and followed by more than 195,500 numbers of people. Indian Agriculture Professional (IAP), a part of ISAP, has also crossed more than 189,000 professional members following the page in the network
  • Reached 1,500 villages, 250 blocks, 100 Districts in 18 States
  • Touched and transformed lives of 5 lakhs Indian farming families
  • Provided Entrepreneurship Development training to 5,600 agri-graduates and incubated 2,150 successful ventures
  • Trained 10,000 BPL rural youth on vocational skills and helped them gain meaningful livelihoods
  • Satisfactorily answered more than 6 lakhs farmer queries through Kisan Call Centres (KCC) in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and Gulbarga (Karnataka)
  • Successfully established two 100 bedded rural hospitals in West Bengal
  • Successfully running multi-seater health helpline in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Set up 36 water treatment plants for village drinking water supply schemes in various States
  • Successfully running Community Radio Station "Kissan Vani" in Sironj, District Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh)

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ISAP Activities

OCPF-IFS Project, Rajasthan


ISAP is working with the small and marginal farmers in Baran, Bundi and Sawai Madhopur districts of Rajasthan through the OCPF-IFS project. Key interventions are being made to increase the productivity of field crops, vegetables and fruits through implementation of advanced crop production technologies, integrated farming practices, resource conservation like watershed harvesting management and generating in-farm resources like vermi-compost and bio-pesticides.


Efforts are being made to strengthen the FPOs through building linkages to marketing and value chain stakeholders. Agri-Village Resource Centers (AVRCs) have been established in all the six operational blocks of the project to provide a common platform for the FPOs to run the enterprises. These FPOs have been provided with tractors, farm machinery, warehouse, shade net house for nursery, vermi-compost pit, medical dispensary, children’s play zone and a large platform for drying and winnowing of farmers’ produce.

Monthly Update:-

Kharif Crop Demonstration, Shade Net Nursery and Seed Production Program

In Kharif season, demonstrations were set-up for paddy and leguminous crops, namely soybean, black gram and green gram in all the six blocks. Total 20 demos were set-up in each of the blocks. Also, Seed Production Program has been planned in both the blocks of Kishanganj (Baran) and Khandar (Sawai Madhopur). Seed production of soybean was planned in 40 acres, green gram in 15 acres, black gram in 10 acres, and paddy in 20 acres. Two Seed Processing Units have been commissioned in these two locations.

Nurseries at Bonli and Khandar (Sawai Madhopur), Kishanganj (Baran), and HIndoli (Bundi) have become functional during this season. At these nurseries, saplings from good varieties of seeds of chilli, tomato, guava, lemon, pomegranates and papaya are being raised on time, so that the saplings of these good varieties horticultural plants could be provided to the FPO farmer members at a reasonable cost.

The tray plantation under Shade Net Nursery of Kishanganj

The guava plantation raised under shade net in the nursery of Kishanganj

Seed sowing in AVRC Nusery khandar

A crop demo plot at Khandar, Rajasthan

Sowing of seeds under Shade Net Nursery at the AVRC of Khandar, Rajasthan


Vermi-compost of soil in the three Blocks of Rajasthan for sale

During the last month, vermi-compost was prepared in the three Blocks of Districts Baran and Bundi. The total quantities of vermi-compost produced were around 2.1 tonnes. At all the three locations, vermi-compost after processing and packaging are now being offered for sale to FPO members @INR 5/- per kg.

Vermi-compost cleaning and packing at AVRC Hindoli


Training Program on Organic Farming and Field Demos

The FPO member farmers in Bonli and Khandar blocks were imparted training on organic farming. These trainings were conducted at the AVRC centers at Lakhanpur and Bahravada Khurd. Total 75 farmer members attended these training programs. Some demonstrations on organic products have also been planned in these regions. Dr. Zaidi and Mr. Mukesh Malik from Aaron Agro Tech also joined these training programs as resource personals.

A training on organic farming by Dr. S.H. Zaidi and Mr. Mukesh Malik at Lakhanpur and Bharvada Khurd of Rajasthan


Chilli Procurement at Block Khandar

This season, Khandar FPO procured 12.70 quintals of red chilli from its member farmers. A Chilli Grinding Unit has been commissioned at AVRC Khandar. The FPO sells the grinded and packed red chilli powder in packet forms in the brand name of ‘Dharini’. So far, FPO has sold 4 quintals of the processed red chilli powder from its AVRC.

The Grinding Unit of red chilli powder at AVRC Khandar region of Sawai Madhopur


OCPF-AES Project, Karnataka

In phase I, the OCPF-AES project started as a soil health improvement and yield enhancement program. In a span of 4 years, the project culminated into institutionalization of project farmers into Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and integration of these FPOs into the existing market value chain. In the first phase, ISAP formed seven FPOs in the districts of Gulbarga, Bidar and Raichur. In phase II, emphasis is largely on making these FPOs sustainable through market integration, infrastructure support and convergence with various schemes.

Monthly Update:-

After successful trial of watermelon and cucumber, KFMS is now trying to cultivate good variety cotton along with various good varieties of gram crops (red gram, green gram and black gram). These crops are sown in 28 acres at Antapnal Village in Kamlapur region of Dist. Gulbarga. Also, KFMS has planned to promote micro-irrigation in project area. KFMS is assisting its member FPOs in getting distributorship of micro-irrigation from prominent agencies in this sector. KFMS Team is also trying to kickstart some new business verticals with women SHGs. A sanitary napkin manufacturing unit has been installed at Afzalpur AVRC. Soon the women SHGs in this region will be able to operate this unit.

Good variety of cotton cultivated at Antapnal Village in Kamlapur region of Dist. Gulbarga


SFAC-sponsored Projects

ISAP has been delegated the responsibility of setting up 54 FPOs by Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC). ISAP has to set-up these FPOs in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana. Each FPO comprised of 1,000 farmers.

Objectives of the project are:

• Strengthening the farmers’ competence through training programs, exposure visits and demonstration of the best agricultural and allied practices.

• Increasing the marketing opportunities for output marketing via collective action and increasing linkage of the producer groups to fair and remunerative markets..

• Providing input, information and modern technological services pertaining to agriculture and allied activities by developing community-based sustainable agribusiness models.

Monthly Activities: (Karnataka)

Quality Seed Distribution for Prosperity

It is well know that the availability of quality seeds is not only critical, but also essential factor that affects the production of a particular crop. If quality seeds are not provided to farmers it could lead to decline in the overall productivity. The potato growing farmers of Dharwad were facing similar kind of challenges; the quality seeds were not available and even if they were available the price were very high.

Therefore, M/s Kayakyogi Horticulture Farmer Producer organization Ltd., Dharwad, took the initiative to help their member farmers to overcome this problem of getting quality seeds for farming. The need assessment was conducted at the village level and FPO sourced good variety potato seeds directly from Jalandhar, Punjab. Now, the FPO is supplying these good variety potato seeds at very reasonable price to their member farmers.

The distribution centers were created at various Farmers Interest Group (FIG) levels, so that farmers could easily avail the quality seeds at their door steps. With this activity, the FPC was able to cater more than 100 farmer members. Such initiative taken up by the FPC decreased the farmers’ input cost and also helped them to improve production on farm after receiving and sowing these good variety potato seeds.

The distribution of good variety potato seeds to the member farmers by M/s Kayakyogi Horticulture Farmer Producer Organization Ltd. at Dharwad


The Project SHARE

This is the second phase of the Project Sustainable Harvest Agriculture Resources and Environment (SHARE).

The project will augment yields of 30,000 farmers across the eight districts of Maharashtra (Amravati, Akola, Nagpur, Wardha, Yavatmal, Washim, Jalna and Aurangabad) and three districts of Telangana (Nizamabad, Asifabad and Adilabad). This is being done sustainably through input–output management, capacity building of the farmers, imparting best package of practices through creation of demonstrations/model plots, creating water harvesting structures, facilitating market linkages and aggregating them into sustainable FPOs engaged in profitable agribusiness operations. The project will also impart trainings to the lead member farmers on following IFS through the promotion of livestock rearing, raising of horticultural crops and vermi-composting.

The project will engage 30,000 member farmers from 30 blocks and about 400 villages from the respective states of Maharashtra and Telangana that will be further mobilized into establishment of 30 new FPOs. The project will also establish 600 women SHGs engaging over 6,000 rural women and imparting them with skill development trainings for engaging them in small-scale business enterprises.


Monthly Activities:-

Under the IFS components many activities took place in the month of July. Under IFS components, the member farmers in the project region were provided support for setting up of goatery units, low-cost drip irrigation systems, portable vermi-compost units and apiary units. Also, in the select areas, the member farmers were provided with good variety of fruit saplings. These components were provided to the member farmers after carrying out a proper need assessment of their resources and their interests. The idea behind this was to reduce their dependence on conventional cropping system and enhance their income levels through cultivation of horticultural fruits along with carrying out IFS activities.

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A drip irrigation system installed on the member farmer’s farm

A vermi-compost unit installed on the member farmer’s farm

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A goat rearing unit installed in the home of a member farmer

A farm pond prepared on the member farmer’s farm


 

The ‘IFS Demonstrations’ given to the member farmers in the Vidarbh region of Maharashtra

The member farmers in the project regions were provided training on proven cropping techniques. Farmers in Telangana were provided training on biological methods of controlling pests that includes ‘usage of Pheromone traps’. Farmers in Vidarbha region (Maharashtra) were provided training on ‘Pest and Nutrient Management’ in soybean. Farmers in Telangana and Maharashtra were also provided training on IFS components.

Crop Demos have been laid in the project areas for paddy, cotton, tur, black gram, soybean and various other horticultural crops in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In Marathwada region, demos were set-up for maize and soybean crops. In Telangana, Crop Demonstrations were set-up on cotton, paddy, maize and turmeric.

A demo on vermi-compost bed preparation at Ambad, Maharashtra

An IFS Demo plot of Mosambi at Ambad, Maharashtra


A new FPO has been registered in the month of July at Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. So far, 22 FPOs have been registered under this project. Also, the registrations of other new FPOs are in progress.

A Demo on ‘pheromones traps’

The farmers training on Crop Demos at KVK, Telangana


Agri-Clinic Agri-Business Program

ISAP is running an Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) in 12 states under the aegis of MANAGE. Under this program, training is provided to unemployed agriculture and allied sector graduates. After the training, ISAP provides active hand-holding support to these trained agripreneurs for setting up their own business ventures. ISAP has so far trained 5,600 agripreneurs in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Out of these 5,600 agripreneurs, around 2,150 agripreneurs have successfully established their independent business. We share one such success story with our readers in each ISAP’s Newsletter.

A Success Story

IDEAS AND INNOVATION ARE AN ESSENTIAL ASSET OF BUSINESS

Name: Souvik Chaki
Age: 24 years
Father’s name: Mr. Ashok Chaki
Mother’s name: Mrs. Lovely Chaki
Address: Barpeta, Guwahati
Business: Poultry and Livestock Trading
Turnover: 50 lakhs


Souvik Chaki has an endearment for farmers from his childhood days. Being born in a small village of Jalpesh Mandir in Maynaguri, West Bengal, he always admired the elegance of the farmlands. This affection for agriculture motivated him to get a degree in B.Sc. Agriculture along with practically acquires more information about it.

He did his graduation in 2014 from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University and took campus placement in the company named Isagro. “After B.Sc. Agriculture, I could have gone for M.Sc. or MBA, but I didn’t. Seeing the farmers of my village struggling with their crop, I decided to stay and help them.” He could have joined any private company and earned ample amount of money, but helping his village farmers was his primary concern. So, he took Jalpesh Mandir his hometown as his job location. Alongside his job, he thought of doing some business that could also help promote the status of the farmers of his village.

“Then I got to know about ISAP from my friends who had taken this course and started their own business.” He took the training from ISAP in 2015 and got the insight about the different business aspects and gained the confidence to start his own venture. After taking training from ISAP, he started a ‘fertilizer and pesticide input shop’ in his hometown.

After stating the fertilizer and pesticide input shop, he got many opportunities to expand his horizon from retail to wholesale, but due to paucity of the capital he couldn’t expand his business. “The fertilizer and pesticide business requires a ‘lot of capital’ and it has been one of the major concerns from Day 1. The problem was that I didn’t have enough capital to keep the stock.”

Souvik Chakri at his Agri-input and Poultry Retail Shop at Jalpesh Mandir, West Bengal



“From the starting itself I used to go in the fields by myself and give the free consultancy services to farmers. I used to observe their crops and advise them about the newly introduced practices in agriculture and sold my products.” He used to give demos of the fertilizer and pesticide products by himself and tried to induce new practices on farming. It has been only 3 years since he started his journey of entrepreneurship and his primary motive has been the welfare of farmers. His idea for being a successful entrepreneur is through proper knowledge and planning the business that a person wants to indulge in.

Currently, his business has a turnover of about INR 75 Lakh per year with four employees working under him. Starting from only 10 companies, presently he sells the good products of 50 companies and 850 farmers are connected with him for receiving good fertilizers and pesticides for their crops.

“My motive is that farmers invest less and earn more. So, I provide them the best possible products so that their cost is less and production is high.”


‘Hunar’ Skills Training Program and IFS - John Deere

ISAP and Global Communities has initiated the Hunar Skills Program in Dharwad region, Karnataka; Bhopal region, Madhya Pradesh; and Nagpur/Akola region, Maharashtra. This programme is funded by John Deere, India. The main objective of this program is to provide training on operations and maintenance of tractors and combines, as means to improve livelihoods and increase qualified labour force in remote markets. Each training course is for 45 days, including 30 days of classroom training and 15 days of practical training. Classroom training includes both theory and practical with machinery and equipment. The training is free-of-cost for the trainees and a full residential training program with lodging and boarding arrangements. In particular, the program aims to provide skills training to 720 individuals. Apart from this, the program also aims to improve agricultural productivity by introducing Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) in rural Indian markets by providing training on IFS to 1,350 farmers.

Monthly Activities:-

“Hunar” Skills Training Programs were inaugurated on 1st March, 2016 at Akola (Maharashtra) on April, 2016 at Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), and on 4th May, 2016 at Dharwad (Karnataka). Till now, 500 candidates have been trained at all the three locations. Also, we started a new batch in Tractor Operator and Mechanic domain on 15th July, 2017 at Akola (Maharashtra) with the strength of 30 candidates.


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The “Hunar” Skills Training Programs



IEX - Hunar Training Program

ISAP has initiated Hunar Training Program in ‘Solar Energy Technician’ domain at Samastipur district of Bihar, funded by ‘India Energy Exchange’. The main objective of the program is to prepare youth for improved livelihoods by making them skilled and employable in the Solar Energy sector. There is a gap of trained Solar Energy Technicians in Bihar and this project will be focusing on bridging that gap. The goal of this program is to increase access to livelihood and income among the unemployed youth through skill development. In particular, the program aims to provide skills training to 175 people per year. Each training course is for 60 days duration, including 45 days of classroom training and 15 days of practical training. Classroom training includes both theory and practical with machinery and equipment. The training is a non-residential training program and free-of-cost for the trainees.

Monthly Activities:-

Till now, we have completed training of six batches and trained 185 candidates on Hunar Training Program in ‘Solar Energy Technician’ domain. Out of 185 candidates, 103 trainees were placed or self-employed successfully, and for the remaining candidates, the placement is in process.


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The IEX - Hunar Training Program at Samastipur (Bihar)


Hunar Skill and IFS Training Program: CASE New Holland

ISAP has initiated the Hunar Skill Training Program funded by CASE New Holland in the three rural regions of Dharwad and Hasan (Karnataka) and Jaipur (Rajasthan). The main objective of this program is to provide training on operation of Case Backhoe Loader, as means to improve the livelihoods and increase the qualified labor forces in remote markets. The training course is of 60 days duration, which includes 45 days of classroom training and 15 days of practical training. Classroom training includes both theory and practical on machinery and equipment. It is a non-residential training program and completely free-of-cost for the trainees. In particular, the program aims to provide skills training to 60 individuals. Apart from this, the program also aims to improve the agricultural productivity by introducing Integrated Farming System (IFS) and by promoting innovative techniques during trainings of 900 farmers on IFS, thus catering to the demands of Indian markets.


The trainings on Integrated Farming System (IFS) at Dharwad, Karnataka

The trainings on Integrated Farming System (IFS) at Hasan, Karnataka

The trainings on IFS at Jaipur, Rajasthan



Science & Technology:

Gene editing opens doors to seedless fruits with no need for bees

Don’t like the seeds in tomatoes? You might be pleased to know that seedless ones have been created by gene editing.

The technique will make it possible to make a much wider range of seedless fruits than is currently available—and also means that farmers might not have to rely on the declining bees’ population. Whether we ever see such fruits on supermarket shelves, however, may depend on how regulators decide to treat gene-edited crops.

Several types of seedless fruits, from bananas to cucumbers to grapes, are already widely available, but many have come about by luck rather than design. Seedless bananas are the result of accidental crosses between subspecies, for instance, while other seedless fruits stem from spontaneous mutations. There are a few seedless varieties of tomato, but they have taken breeders many years to create.

Now, Keishi Osakabe at Tokushima University in Japan and his colleagues have used the CRISPR gene-editing technique to deliberately introduce a mutation that makes tomatoes seedless. The mutation increases levels of a hormone called ‘auxin’, which stimulates fruits to develop even though no seeds have begun to form. The precise nature of the CRISPR technique meant that no mutations were introduced into other parts of the plant genome. The only obvious difference is that the mutant plant’s leaves had simpler, less intricate shapes than normal, because higher auxin levels also affect the formation of leaves.

The development of a fetus of the usual (Top) and genetically edited tomato


Source: newscientist



Prominent Contributors to Agriculture:

Dr. Lynn Margulis (5th March, 1938–22nd November, 2011)

Lynn Margulis was an American biologist who completely altered the concept of how life arose on Earth. Born as the eldest of her siblings in Chicago, Margulis was not a class topper in Hyde Park Academy High School. She earned both her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago and then joined University of Wisconsin to study biology under Walter Plaut and Hans Ris. While pursuing research, she was offered a position as a research assistant and lecturer in the Brandeis University. Throughout her career, she has scaled heights, the highest being the Distinguished Professor of Geosciences, a position she retained till her death. Although, she was a staunch evolutionist, she completely rejected the theory of modern evolutionary synthesis, which made her realize that she was more of a ‘neo-Darwinist’. Her theoretical paper on mitosing cells was rejected 15 times before it was finally printed and now it is considered as the landmark argument in serial endosymbiotic theory (SET) of the origin of cells, which posits that eukaryotic cells (cells with nuclei) evolved from the symbiotic merger of non-nucleated bacteria that had previously existed independently. Margulis was a tenacious lady who defended her theory vehemently, even in the face of staunch criticism. Apart from her serial endosymbiotic theory, Margulis collaborated with James Lovelock, the British scientist on Gaia hypothesis. Apart from her scholarly articles, Margulis wrote a number of books interpreting scientific concepts for people in general.

Source: Thefamouspeople


Do you know

Breadfruit

Image result for breadfruit

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit family (Moraceae) originating in the South Pacific and eventually spreading to the rest of Oceania. British and French navigators introduced a few Polynesian seedless varieties to Caribbean islands during the late 18th century, and today it is grown in some 90 countries throughout South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, Central America and Africa. Its name is derived from the texture of the moderately ripe fruit when cooked, similar to freshly baked bread and having a potato-like flavor.

According to DNA fingerprinting studies, breadfruit has its origins in the region of Oceania from New Guinea through the Indo-Malayan Archipelago to western Micronesia. The trees have been widely planted in tropical regions elsewhere, including lowland Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. In addition to the fruit serving as a staple food in many cultures, the trees’ light, sturdy timber has been used for outriggers, ships and houses in the tropics.


Source: wikipedia

 

News Highlights

Tomato prices likely to decline in next 15 days: ICAR official

Tomato prices, which have skyrocketed up to Rs 100/kg, are more likely to decline over the next fortnight as supplies from southern and other growing states are expected to improve said a senior ICAR official. Retail tomato prices have gone through the roof for more than a month now in most parts of the country and are still ruling high up to Rs 100 per kg, as per the data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry. Tomato prices in metros were ruling at Rs 95/kg in Kolkata, Rs 92/kg in Delhi, Rs 80/kg in Mumbai and Rs 55/kg in Chennai on June 29, as per the ministry data. In other centers, tomato was sold at Rs 95/kg in Lucknow, Rs 90/kg in Bhopal and Thiruananthapuram, Rs 65/kg in Ahmadabad, Rs 60/kg in Jaipur, Rs 60/kg in Patna and Rs 55/kg in Hyderabad in the said period, the data showed. The rates in producing centers have also gone up sharply. For instance, tomato is being sold at Rs 83/kg in Shimla and Rs 75/kg in Bengaluru.

The prices vary depending on the variety and quality. In the year-ago period too, tomato rates had gone up to Rs 65/kg but it had not hit this high. "As per personal assessment, I expect prices to come down in the next 15 days. Supplies from southern states and other growing areas are likely to improve," Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Deputy Director General (Horticultural Science) AK Singh told PTI.

Read more at: economictimes

Farmers grow more uradbean, cotton and bajra crops this kharif season

Farmers have increased cultivation of uradbean, cotton and bajra crops midway into the kharif crop planting season this year, a trend that traders and analysts attribute to firm prices of these commodities in the domestic market.

The total acreage under kharif crops increased by 15.47% in the past week with adequate rainfall in most parts of the country, agriculture ministry data showed. The total area under crops stood at 79.13 million hectares as of Friday, up 3.3% from 76.58 million hectares a year earlier.

“Farmers are switching to other crops due to poor realisation of some crops like soyabean, arhar and other lentils. Cotton price has been especially good with exports steady. Further, uradbean prices have not fallen as dramatically as tur or other lentils. Hence, we see an increase in planting of these crops,” said Prerana Desai, head of commodity research at Edelweiss Agri Value Chain Ltd.

The current price of Shankar 6 cotton variety is Rs 41,000–42,500 per candy of 356 kg in Gujarat, according to a trader in Rajkot. “Cotton farmers moved from soyabean, groundnut and pulses after their prices fell below the minimum support price level and the government had to intervene. Also, the trade expects China to import cotton from India as it has poor stock,” the trader said.

The current price of Shankar 6 cotton variety is Rs 41,000–42,500 per candy of 356 kg in Gujarat, according to a trader in Rajkot. “Cotton farmers moved from soyabean, groundnut and pulses after their prices fell below the minimum support price level and the government had to intervene. Also, the trade expects China to import cotton from India as it has poor stock,” the trader said.

The area under cotton cultivation was 21% higher than a year ago at 11.15 million hectares, with higher planting in Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Cotton is expected to be grown on 12.25 million hectares this year.

Read more at: economictimes


Supreme Court asks government to apprise about any adverse impact of GM mustard crop

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to apprise by July 28 about any adverse impact, based on research, of the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop. A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud said that if the commercial roll out of the GM mustard crop has adverse impact, then the government would have to take a "well-informed" view before coming out with a policy decision on it. The bench considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the genetically modified seeds might have adverse effects leading diseases like cancer and said that then it might restrain the government.

"You (counsel for the Centre) will have to give an undertaking on the effects of the GM mustard crop. If it is going to have an (adverse) impact, then we will have to take a decision," it said.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government has so far not taken any policy decision on the commercial release of the GM mustard crop and was considering various aspects including the data.

The Court posted the matter for further hearing to July 31. The court had on July 17 asked the Centre to take a "considered" view before taking a policy decision on the commercial release of the crop.

"It is an extremely, extremely important issue. You (Centre) take a well-informed and considered decision, as once it is allowed then the effects would be irreversible," it had said.

The Apex Court had on October 17 last year extended the stay on the commercial release of the crop till further orders. It had asked the government to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing these for cultivation purposes. Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crop which is sown between mid-October and late November.

Bhushan, who appeared for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, had alleged that the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and that the bio-safety dossier, which has to be made public by putting it on the website, had not been done.

Alleging that field trials were being carried out without the relevant tests, Bhushan had sought a 10-year moratorium on them.

Read more at: economictimes

Government should focus on structural issues of agriculture sector: Report

There are no quick fixes for farmers' distress and the government should focus on structural issues instead of resorting to short-term policy measures like farm loan waiver schemes, says an UBS report.

Despite a bumper crop in the rabi season, farmers in many states are in distress because of sharp fall in prices in both domestic and global market. Farmers in various parts of the country have been agitating, seeking higher support prices for their produce as well as waiver of loans. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharasthra and Karnataka have already announced loan waiver schemes.

According to the UBS report factors like sluggish global commodity prices, "interventionist" government policies like restrictions on exports of certain food items like pulses despite surplus supply, ban on futures trading and imposition of stockholding limits, among others are adding to farmers' distress despite bumper crop. Moreover, limited storage and processing facilities available also makes the situation challenging for the farmers, the report authored by Tanvee Gupta Jain, Economist at UBS Securities India, said.

These initiatives would help improve productivity and farmers’ returns on a sustainable basis as against spending on schemes like farm debt waiver that only provide a temporary respite, the report added.

In its base case, UBS expects agricultural growth to remain buoyant at 3.3 per cent year-on-year in 2017-18 following a bumper harvest last year (growth was up 4.9 per cent YoY in 2016-17). The government has meanwhile said that there is no proposal under consideration with regard to farm loan write-off. However, a facility has been put in place for farmers to avail concessional debt.

Read more at: economictimes

Darjeeling tea planters seek assistance from Tea Board

Reeling under distressed conditions owing to the entire loss of the premium second-flush crop, planters of Darjeeling have approached Tea Board seeking financial assistance. The Darjeeling tea planters have approached us for some special assistance due to the loss of the second-flush crop", deputy chairman of Tea Board Santosh Sarangi told PTI. He said that though no specifics were given, the planters had been asked to suggest what kind of package they require to mitigate the crisis.

"They came and apprised Tea Board about the situation in Darjeeling", he said.

Owing to more than a month-long shutdown in the hills, there had been no production of second-flush crop which had resulted in a huge revenue loss estimated between Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore comprising 87-odd gardens.

Sarangi said that the budget for Tea Board and its schemes had been set at Rs 135 crore this financial year. If suddenly additional allocation is demanded, then we will have to go back to the Commerce ministry," he said.

Chairman of Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) Binod Mohan said,"we are preparing a plan which will be finalised this week-end. We will then submit it to the Tea Board".

He said that Tea Board runs several schemes under which assistance would be sought.

"The second flush is gone totally. Now monsoon flush time has come. But there is still no production", he said.

Mohan said that owing to prolonged closure, the bushes have overgrown. "After reopening, the bushes will have to be cut and wait for them to grow again", he said.

"We will have to wait from 15 days to 3 weeks to start plucking again", he said.


Read more at: economictimes

Agriculture biggest strength of economy; bamboo policy soon: Nitin Gadkari

Terming agriculture as the biggest strength of Indian economy, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today wondered how could the previous government spend Rs 70,000 crore for buying aircraft at a time when several states did not have irrigation facilities.

Stressing on the need of agricultural diversification towards energy like manufacturing of ethanol, he said the government is likely to bring a policy to promote bamboo cultivation which could be used to harness bio-fuel.

Taking a dig at the previous government regime, he said, "Had the capital cost incurred on purchase of aircraft worth Rs 70,000 crore been used to provide irrigation facilities to farmers, it would have made a huge difference to the agriculture sector".

"Agriculture has not been the priority but purchase of aircraft worth Rs 70,000 crore (by previous regime) despite the fact that 11 states lacked irrigation facilities with the percentage as low as 5.6 per cent in Jharkhand and 18.98 per cent in Maharashtra," Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari said here.

Addressing a Summit on Crop Care & Doubling Farmers' Income: Myths, Challenges & Way Forward by Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration of Assocham, the minister said the percentage of agriculture was less than 50 per cent in 11 states.

He also said the government is likely to bring a policy to promote bamboo sector which could be used to harness bio-fuel.

"I have been diligently working towards diversification of agriculture into energy and power sector, I am happy to inform that I aggressively followed up with the matter and held three meetings with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and soon we will have a bamboo policy," he said.

"Our petroleum minister has also signed 15 contracts to harness bioethanol out of bamboo," he added.

Read more at: economictimes

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By the end of the next century, the “greenhouse effect” may increase temperatures worldwide to levels that have not been reached for at least 100,000 years. And the effects on sea level and on agriculture and other human activities are likely to be so profound that we should be planning for them now. - John R Gribbin


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