Subsidised solar pump scheme launched in Odisha

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched the Soura Jalanidhi scheme that aims to increase use of solar energy for helping farmers in irrigating their land.

‘Soura Jalanidhi’, is a dug well-based solar pump irrigation system in convergence mode.

Under the scheme, 5,000 solar pumps will be given to Odisha farmers at a subsidy of 90 per cent to irrigate 2,500 acres of land.

The chief minister also launched the web portal of this scheme on the occasion. The event was attended by 1,000 farmers from 30 districts through video conference.

In the first phase, the facility will be available for farmers where electicity is not avaialable for operating pump sets.

The solar pumps will be given to the beneficiary farmers at a subsidy of 90 per cent. A total of Rs 27 crore will be spent for the programme, an official said.

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Gujarat’s first Mega Food Park inaugurated in Surat

Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal Monday inaugurated the first Mega Food Park in Gujarat.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.

The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.

These food parks give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables.

A maximum grant of R50 crore is given for setting up a MFP, in minimum 50 acres of contiguous land with only 50% contribution to the total project cost.

The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).

The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.

CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.

The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.

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Nagaland to receive ‘Best Horticulture State’ Award

Nagaland has been chosen as the ‘Best Horticulture State’ in the 11th Global Agriculture Leadership Summit and Leadership Awards 2018.

11th Global Leadership Awards were announced and the Agriculture Year Book 2018 was launched.

Leveraging upon its past experiencing, ICFA has launched 1st World Agriculture Prize and MS Swaminathan Global Dialogue on Climate Change and Food Security to come up with a blueprint for sustained agriculture growth in changing the face of climate and weather extremes.

Global Agriculture Summit:

Global Agriculture Summit is an annual event organized by Indian Council of Food and Agriculture to discuss the broad scenario and trends in the agriculture sector, trade, technology, investments and the need for appropriate policy initiatives on the part of the Government by bringing together eminent personalities of Indian and global agriculture on one platform.

The summit aims to discuss the broad issues in agriculture and agribusiness, and measures to empower farmers and unleash the potential of India’s agriculture sector by deliberating upon national and global challenges for farmers, agribusinesses and startups, the issue of employment and agriculture development and bring out a roadmap for the same.

ICFA had established the Agriculture Leadership Awards in 2008 to recognize the leadership roles played by individuals and institutions positively impacting the lives of farmers and rural masses.

Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu was awarded the Policy Leadership Award for his proactive policies for uplifting the farming community by focusing on irrigation, investment, global partnerships, marketing initiatives, and zero budget natural farming.

The best fisheries State Award was given Jharkhand for efforts in augmenting the production potential of the state in fisheries segment. Further, Bihar is Best Animal Husbandry State, Nagaland is a best Horticultural state, Gujarat is Best Agriculture State and Haryana has been conferred with Program Leadership Award.

About ICAF:

Indian Council of Food and Agriculture is an apex think tank for addressing policy issues concerning farmers, food, and agro-industries. ICFA is serving as a global platform for trade facilitation, partnerships, technology, investments and agribusiness services.

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Sikkim’s 100% organic farming wins FAO’s Future Policy Gold Award

Sikkim has won the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award for its achievement in becoming the world’s first totally organic agriculture state.

Sikkim became the first fully organic state of India in 2016. Over the years around 75000 hectares of land in the state has been converted into certified organic farms following the guidelines as prescribed by the National Programme for Organic Production.

Within 1.24 million tonnes of organic production in the country around 80000 million is supplied by Sikkim alone.

Organic farming and its significance:

Organic cultivation doesn’t involve the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and thus helps to maintain a harmonious balance among the various complex ecosystems. Also, it improves the quality of the soil which further improves the standards of the crops produced there. In the long term, organic farming leads in the subsistence of agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and environmental protection. It will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production.

The first step towards making Sikkim an organic state was to recognize the natural factors that made it an ideal location for organic farming. These included its topography, the local use of traditional farming systems, the diversity of its climatic conditions and the fact the local soil is rich in organic carbon.

Then, in 2003, the ‘Going for Organic Farming in Sikkim’ programme was prepared, along with the Sikkim State Organic Board, which prioritized the creation of new infrastructures and the mobilizing of resources. From here, a seven-year plan was introduced to ban chemical fertilizers – gradually replacing them with organic plant nutrients.

The initiatives that propelled Sikkim’s progress:

In 2004, the production of organic manure began, replacing other compost.

Between 2004 and 2006, two seed testing and processing units were introduced, as well as soil testing laboratories for studying soil health.

The Centre of Excellence for Organic Farming was created.

Starting in 2008, several organic certification programmes took place, with much of the land being certified by organizations such as the Department of Science and Technology and the Food Security and Agriculture Department.

In 2010, a biofertilizer production unit was put together, and the National Level Workshop was introduced in Sikkim’s villages.

Later that year, a plan for the adoption of fully organic farming was put into place, known as the Sikkim Organic Mission.

Maintaining the state for the future- To ensure Sikkim stays green in the long term, there are a few additional initiatives that have been introduced to the state:

Firstly, animals are no longer allowed to graze in the reserve forest in order to conserve natural resources. There are still plenty of other spaces for animals to graze while protecting this land.

Plastic bags have been banned, encouraging shoppers to take their own bags to the store to cut down on plastic manufacturing and waste.

The State Green Mission was launched, which includes planting fruit-bearing trees, plantation drives and more.

The prizes, nicknamed the “Oscar for best policies”, honor exceptional policies adopted by political leaders who have decided to act, no longer accepting widespread hunger, poverty or environmental degradation.

Previously it was honored for policies combating desertification, violence against women and girls, nuclear weapons and pollution of the oceans.

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Crop damages in animal attacks put under PMFBY on pilot basis: Agri Minister

The Union government has decided to cover damages to crops in wild animal attacks under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna in select districts on an experimental basis

Several parliamentarians have been raising this issue from time to time and demanding insurance cover for damages to the crops in animal attacks under the Centre’s scheme.

The government has also brought under the PMFBY ambit certain horticultural crops on an experimental basis, the minister said.

Singh said damages to individual or limited number of cultivators in localised events like water logging, land slide, hailstorms etc did not fall under the ambit of the Centre’s crop insurance scheme earlier, but they too are being covered now under new provisions.

The provisions of the crop insurance scheme have been amended in consultation with various stakeholders after a review of its working for the last two years, the minister said, adding the amended provisions of the scheme have been implemented from October 2018.

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Gram Sabhas to inform farmers about the enrolment of farmers under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY)

Gram Sabhas across the country have been asked to inform the farmers about the enrolment and benefits of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojan (PMFBY) at the beginning of the Rabi Season today. The Gram Sabhas will also inform the farmers on how they can ensure their crops under the Scheme. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has requested the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the State Governments to include this as an agenda in the upcoming Gram Sabhas, especially for the one scheduled on 2nd October 2018, in connection with Gandhi Jayanti.  This is as part of the awareness initiatives taken up at various levels by the Govt and Insurance Companies to create awareness about the Scheme and mobilize farmers to insure their crops.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has requested the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the State Governments to include this as an agenda in the upcoming Gram Sabhas, especially for the one scheduled on 2nd October 2018, in connection with Gandhi Jayanti.

This is as part of the awareness initiatives taken up at various levels by the Govt and Insurance Companies to create awareness about the Scheme and mobilize farmers to insure their crops.

About PMFBY:

In April 2016, the government of India had launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Premium: It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.

The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.

Objectives:

  • Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  • Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • Ensuring the flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of the agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.
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Cabinet approves Special Package for Irrigation Projects in Vidarbha, Marathwada and other chronically drought prone areas of Rest of Maharashtra

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the implementation of Centrally Sponsored-Scheme for completion of 83 Minor Irrigation projects and 8 major/medium irrigation projects of Marathwada, Vidharbha, and drought-prone areas of the rest of Maharashtra.

Completion of these projects will ensure an assured source of water to the farmers in the command area of these projects. This will increase the yield of their crops and thereby increase the income of the farmers.

The special package shall help in the creation of additional potential of 3.77 L Hectares. In Marathwada, Vidharbha, and drought-prone areas of rest of Maharashtra.

The projects included under special package are over and above the 26 major/ medium projects of Maharashtra having an ultimate potential of 8.501 Ha being funded under PMKSY-AIBP, which are planned to be completed by December 2019.

The progress of the projects would be monitored by State as well as Central Water Commission.

Financial Implications:

The overall balance cost of the projects as on 01.04.2018 is estimated to be Rs. 13,651.61 crore.

This amounts @ 25% of the balance cost of these 91 projects as on 01.04.18 as well as 25% reimbursement for the expenditure incurred during 2017-18, keeping in view that funding of these projects is under consideration since 2017-18, would be provided. Total Central Assistance to be provided for implementation of these projects is Rs. 3,831.41 crore.   Rest is to be provided by Government of Maharashtra. It is also envisaged that State Share may be arranged through NABARD.

Benefits and Employment Generation:

On completion of the projects, the utilization of irrigation potential of about 3.77 lakh ha will transform the agriculture scenario of the region resulting in the generation of substantially more employment opportunities through the increase in cropping intensity, change in cropping pattern, agro-processing and other ancillary activities.

Moreover, implementation of the scheme will generate employment of approximately 341 lakh man-days for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers.

Background:

Maharashtra has experienced hydrological and agricultural drought during the years 2012 to 2016. The situation has been worst in Vidharbha and Marathwada region with an unfortunate incidence of suicides by farmers been reported there. Also, Drought Prone Areas (DPA) in rest of Maharashtra has experienced distress in the recent years. These projects are ongoing, yet, they are languishing due to fund constraints as informed by the State Government. The completion of balance works of these projects will help in the creation of additional 3.77 lakh hectare of irrigation potential and assured a source of water to the farmers in the command area of these projects. This will increase the yield of their crops and thereby increase the income of the farmers.

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IFFCO launches iMandi App for rural digital revolution

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), a large-scale fertilizer cooperative federation has taken another step to serve and connect the farmers digitally by launching a social e-commerce app and web portal, “IFFCO iMandi”.

Through this e-commerce platform, IFFCO is targeting to reach GMV (gross merchandise value) of $5 billion in the next two years by catering needs of 5.5 crore farmers already associated with it.

The e-commerce platform is one stop shop for agri inputs and produces, FMCG, electronics, loans, insurance etc.

It has features like buy-sell, communication, entertainment and information/advisory content to keep farmers engaged.

Using it, farmers buy all agri inputs of IFFCO, including fertilizers, agrochemicals and seeds at a discounted price and get free delivery at their doorstep.

About Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO):

IFFCO is large scale fertilizer cooperative federation in India which is registered as Multistate Cooperative Society. It is one of India’s biggest cooperative society which is wholly owned by Indian Cooperatives.

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‘Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/ GM Crops in 2017’ Report

India has the world’s fifth largest cultivated area under genetically modified (GM) crops, at 11.4 million hectares (mh) in 2017. But unlike other big growers, its entire GM crop area is under a single crop — cotton — incorporating genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt soil bacterium coding for resistance against Heliothis bollworm insect pests.

The country with the highest area under transgenic crops, at 75 mh, is the United States. According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the 75 mh GM acreage comprised 34.05 mh soyabean, 33.84 mh maize (corn), 4.58 mh cotton, 1.22 mh alfalfa, 0.876 mh canola, 0.458 mh sugar-beet, 3,000 hectares potato and around 1,000 hectares each of apples, squash and papaya.

Report name:  ‘Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/ GM Crops in 2017’

Highlights of the report:

Unlike other big growers, India’s entire GM crop area is under a single crop — cotton — incorporating genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt soil bacterium coding for resistance against Heliothis bollworm insect pests.

The country with the highest area under transgenic crops, at 75 mh, is the United States. It includes soyabean, maize (corn), cotton, alfalfa, canola, sugar-beet, potato, apples, squash, and papaya.

The report shows farmers across the world to have planted 189.8 mh under transgenic crops last year. This is as against 1.7 mh in 1996, the year when they were grown commercially for the first time. The total planted area grew particularly during the first decade of this century while slowing down in the last five years.

The report has estimated the highest share in the world’s total 189.8 mh GM crop area for 2017 to be of soyabean (94.1 mh), followed by maize (59.7 mh), cotton (24.1 mh), canola (10.2 mh), alfalfa (1.2 mh) and sugar-beet (0.50 mh).

In India, the GM crops that are under regulatory consideration — apart from the already commercialized Bt/insect-resistant cotton — include glyphosate-tolerant cotton and biotech hybrid mustard.

Both the Bollgard II-Roundup Ready Flex (BGII-RRF) cotton event of Monsanto (incorporating Bt as well as glyphosate-tolerant genes) and transgenic mustard developed by Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (harbouring three alien genes that enable higher yields through hybridisation) have undergone all the mandated bio-safety research and open field trials. Their commercial release has, however, been stuck due to opposition from environmental activists.

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Alternative cereals can save water

If Indian farmers were to switch from growing rice and wheat to ‘alternative cereals,’ such as maize, sorghum, and millet, it could reduce the demand for irrigation water by 33%. This could also improve nutrient availability to consumers, according to an analysis by researchers from the U.S.-based Earth Institute, Columbia University and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

For their analysis, the scientists considered water as well as cereal-production data from 1996-2009. Because actual water consumption data were not available, they used a proxy — Crop Water Requirement (CWR), which is the product of the water required by a crop and the harvested area — to calculate water consumption in every district in this period.

In this time, cereal production grew by 230%. Although the combined production of alternative cereals was larger than that of wheat in the 1960s, their relative contribution to the cereal supply has steadily dwindled.

Yet, alternative cereals disproportionately account for the supply of protein, iron, and zinc among kharif crops. At the same time, total CWR demand for Indian cereal production increased from 482 to 632 km3 per year during the study period.

The nub was that rice is the least water-efficient cereal when it came to producing nutrients and was the main driver in increasing irrigation stresses.

Replacing rice with maize, finger millet, pearl millet, or sorghum could save irrigation and improving production of nutrients such as iron by 27% and zinc by 13 %, according to the report in this week’s edition of the peer-reviewed Science Advances. In some districts, however, the shift in cereals translated into a reduction in calorie content.

This week India announced a 50% hike, or ₹ 200 per quintal, in the minimum support price for paddy — the key kharif crop — along with several other crops. Though hikes were also announced for alternative cereals, some of which were included in the analysis, the government doesn’t procure these crops like it does rice and wheat. It mainly uses these procured cereals to meet obligations under the Food Security Act.

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