Current Affairs : Agriculture
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  • The Centre on 26th April raised wheat import duty by a third to 40 per cent to support local farmers from further price fall and prevent its possible import on the back of a growing demand for animal feed in drought hit states including Maharashta, Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • A notification issued by the Ministry of Finance on 26 April evening said that wheat import will attract 40 per cent duty from existing 30 per cent effective immediately.
  • The government in its latest estimates has forecast India’s wheat output at 100 million tonnes, the highest ever, as against 99.12 million tonnes forecast by the Ministry of Agriculture's Second Advance Estimate released in February 2019.
  • “There has been negligible import of wheat in India during the last financial year due to bumper domestic output. But, there is a fear in the market that wheat demand would pick up especially for animal feed due to the scarcity of fodder in some states.
  • Perhaps, the government must have taken a preventive measure to restrict import and support local wheat farmers,” said Vedika Narvekar, an analyst with Anand Rathi Shares & Stock Brokers.
  • Data compiled by the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) showed India’s total wheat import at 2700 tonnes worth $0.8 million for the period between April 2018 and January 2019 as against 1.65 million tonnes ($365 million) imported in the financial year 2017-18 and 5.7 million tonnes (worth $1269 million) in the previous year.
  • Despite negligible import, wheat prices in India have declined by around 13 per cent so far this calendar year and over 8 per cent in April alone following a spurt in arrivals of the new season harvest in spot mandis.
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  • To identify, demarcate wetlands and restore the degraded wetlands through suitable livelihood programmes
  • In a major attempt to build resilience against the impact of climate change, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have joined together to map, validate and protect smaller wetlands in the coastal region aimed at restoring them through coastal livelihood programmes.
  • An MoU was signed between the CMFRI and the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO to develop a mobile app and a centralised web portal with a complete database of wetlands that are smaller than 2.25 hectares in the country.
  • Such smaller wetlands cover an area of more than five lakh hectares across the country, while Kerala having as many as 2,592 smaller wetlands.
  • As per the MoU, the two scientific institutes aim to identify and demarcate wetlands and restore the degraded wetlands through suitable livelihood options like coastal aquaculture.
  • The app will be used for real-time monitoring of the wetlands and giving advisories to stakeholders and coastal people.
  • The collaborative move is part of a national framework for fisheries and wetlands recently developed by the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) project of CMFRI.
  • The NICRA project aims to find ways and means to mitigate the impact of climate change in marine fisheries and coastal region.
  • According to the MoU, the National Wetland Atlas, already developed by the SAC, will be updated with real-time data of physical, chemical and biological parameters of the wetlands to be provided by the CMFRI.
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  • A crop-guzzling insect, which has moved from its native Americas to Asia, threatens to cost farmers from India to Thailand billions of dollars in lost production, the UN food agency has warned.
  • The Fall Armyworm pest is continuing to sweep across the globe, having moved eastwards from its native Americas onto Africa before arriving in Asia only last summer.
  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has convened a three-day meeting of international experts in Bangkok and officials from affected countries, who began discussing what to do about stopping the onward march of the crop-guzzling insects, and limiting the devastation they cause.
  • "We are here today ? together ? because we share a growing sense of alarm ? but also to learn from each other, particularly from those countries who've already been responding to their own infestations," said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
  • Kadiresan said nations need to work together because this is a "pest that has no respect for international boundaries, threatens our food security, our economies, domestic and international trade, and of course the smallholder farmer who wakes up one morning to a cash crop under attack".
  • Fall armyworm have been moving steadily east since 2016 and caused up to USD 3 billion-worth of damage to crops across Africa, a UN news release said.
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  • In a major decision Cabinet approves agriculture export policy in line with government's commitment to double farmer's income by 2022.
  • Cabinet has approved agriculture export policy in line with government's commitment to double farmer's income by 2022.
  • This will harness the immense export potential in India's agri sector and will make it a global agri hub. The aim is to push up agri current exports from 30 bn dollars to 60 bn dollars by 2022
  • In another decision, Cabinet gave its approval to set up 15 Technology Innovation Hubs and several other Hubs under National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems.
  • The Cabinet approval to Amend the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Act, 1951 ensures representation of opposition in the Trust.
  • Cabinet has given its go ahead to the implementation of Shahpurkandi Dam project on river Ravi in Punjab. This will help minimise waste of Ravi's waters that at present flow downstream to Pakistan.
  • An in principle approval has been given for strategic sale of the Govt of India's 52.63% equity shareholding in Rural Electrification Corporation to Power Finance Corporation as well as a transfer of management control.
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  • A total of 36,629 tonnes of vegetables procured from farmers were sold for ₹115.28 crore through the 75 farm fresh shops in the State, said Minister for Cooperatives, Sellur K. Raju.
  • Speaking at the 65th All India Cooperative Week Celebrations here on Friday, Mr. Raju said that 3,24,194 self help groups for women were given ₹4,347.22 crore loans.
  • Besides, 99,950 entrepreneurs were given ₹397.65 crore loan and 71,486 working women were given loans to the tune of ₹392.23 crore.
  • The 282 Amma Pharmacies and other pharmacies run by the Department of Cooperation have sold ₹725.86 crore drugs with 20% discount.
  • Besides, 32,902 fair price shops were supplying free rice for two crore families.Additional 2,362 ration shops have been opened, the Minister said.
  • The Cooperative Societies in the State were functioning in such a manner that common man can become their members and also become their presidents, he added.
  • Minister for Dairy Development, K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji, said that the Department of Cooperation has given loans to the tune of ₹11 crore in the district.
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  • A farmer’s house in the nondescript Kirugavalu village is the country’s largest private rice museum A serpentine road from Mysuru cuts through lush green fields and leads to an obscure village dotted with run-down houses and petty shops with thatched roofs.
  • Sidestepping a passing herd of sheep, I enter a narrow lane and reach a 75-year-old house with a row of pillars.
  • It is this house, in the nondescript Kirugavalu village in Karnataka’s Mandya district, that is the country’s largest private museum of different varieties of paddy.
  • It’s the culmination of 20 years of hard work by Syed Ghani Khan, a farmer, who is also a conservationist at heart.
  • Armed with a degree in archaeology and museology, Khan always wanted to be a museum curator, but had to take up his family’s farming vocation after his father fell ill.
  • A few years into farming, the chemical pesticides began to take a toll on Khan’s health. “This was the turning point; I decided to switch to organic farming,” he says.
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  • World Bank has signed an agreement with the government of India and government of Andhra Pradesh to extend a loan of $172.2 million (Rs 1,257 crore) to help turn farming in Andhra a financially viable activity.
  • The program, the Andhra Pradesh Integrated Irrigation and Agriculture Transformation Project (APIIATP) will benefit two lakh families of poor and marginalised farmers, agro-entrepreneurs, women and other vulnerable groups.
  • The APIIATP program will be implemented in rural areas largely dependent upon rain-fed agriculture and help strengthen the resilience of poor and marginalised farmers against adverse climate events through improved access to irrigation, drought seed varieties, and post-harvest technology.
  • These initiatives were aimed at improving soil health, water-use efficiency, and crop productivity.
  • The project covers 1,000 small-scale community-based irrigation systems spread over an area of 90,000 hectares in over 1,000 villages spread across 12 climate vulnerable districts of Andhra Pradesh.
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  • With fewer predators, raptor numbers plummeted and lizard populations rose in Chalkewadi plateauThere’s a new super-predator in Maharashtra’s Chalkewadi plateau.
  • With their constantly-whirring blades, wind turbines have decreased birds of prey here, finds a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution on November 5.
  • It also proves, for the first time, that the ramifications of wind farms run much deeper across the food chain: superb fan-throated lizards small, colourful reptiles that the birds prey on increased in number and showed altered behaviour, physiology and even less-flamboyant body colours.
  • Wind farms arrived in Chalkewadi almost 20 years ago and Professor Maria Thaker (Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science) and her team studied their impact on the local ecosystem between 2012 and 2014.
  • Comparing raptor and lizard numbers in six areas with and without wind turbines, they found that wind farms had one-fourth the number of birds of prey (including eagles and kites) and showed lower predatory bird activity.
  • But the impacts didn’t end there. With fewer predators, lizard numbers shot up to almost three times more in wind farms. And these reptiles showed marked changes in behaviour.
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  • A collective of organic farmers has initiated a programme to help and rebuild the farms and livelihood of the farmers in Idukki, the hub of spice cultivation in Kerala, which was one of the worst affected districts in heavy rains and flood that hit the state in August.
  • Manarcadu Social Service Society (Mass) a collective of 5000 organic farmers cultivating spices, coffee and cocoa in 5800 acres is hoping to help the affected farmers through organic farming. In the process , it hopes to turn Idukki into fully organic farming district.
  • Bijumon Kurien, president of Mass, said farmer-focused project will associate with NGOs to involve more than 1 lakh families across 52 panchayats and two municipalities of Idukki.
  • ``The three-year project will have several phases focused on different aspects of farmer development that include organic farming, employment and eco-tourism opportunities in Kerala,’’ he said.
  • Mass, formed 17 years ago with focus on organic farming, will distribute 2 lakh saplings free to the farmers for organic cultivation in Idukki. The project will reach out to farmers across the state in phases.
  • `` As per our survey, the Idukki farmers have suffered a loss of about Rs 450 crore from destruction of farms in the recent flood,’’ Kurien said.
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  • The government is considering paying a part of the agriculture power subsidy directly to farmers, instead of free or cheap electricity, as part of a move to rationalise farm sector subsidies
  • Coming ahead of general elections next year, the proposal, if it goes through, is expected to put more money into the hands of farmers, enabling more investments in the industry and higher consumption to boost the overall economy, officials familiar with the development said.
  • A high-level committee, chaired by NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand, has recommended that more than half-a-dozen subsidies to agriculture, amounting to over Rs 2.2 lakh crore, or Rs 11,340 crore per hectare, should be reconsidered to ensure that there is no over utilisation or wastage of subsidised power and urea, they said.
  • “One of the key recommendations of the committee is to let farmers pay for the power used as per metre and this subsidy will be reimbursed under direct benefit transfer (DBT),” one of the officials told ET on condition of anonymity.
  • The committee’s recommendations are being considered by NITI Aayog’s top brass, following which the report will be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office and the agriculture ministry, the sources said.
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  • Prof. MS Swaminathan, chief architect of India’s Green Revolution was awarded the World Agriculture Prize for this year.
  • The global Jury of the 1st World Agriculture Prize had announced this this week.
  • Professor MS Swaminathan, the most influential agriculturist and environmentalist of our times who spearheaded the green revolution movement in India has been instrumental in leading India towards food security.
  • Recognized worldwide for his basic and applied research in genetics, cytogenetics, radiation and chemical mutagenesis, food and biodiversity conservation, MS Swaminathan has been hailed by the United Nations Environment Program as “The Father of Economic Ecology” owing to his commitment towards the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture.
  • Professor Swaminathan has been acclaimed by the TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.
  • The Award was presented by Vice President Naidu at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi at a special session, named “Swaminathan Global Dialogue on Climate Change and Food Security” organised by Indian Council of food and Agriculture (ICFA).
  • World Agriculture Prize has been instituted by Indian Council of Food and Agriculture with the vision to recognize the individuals, who have served the humanity through agriculture.
  • The World Agriculture Award @ 1,00,000 USD to be presented annually to an individual or institution, importantly from Asian, African or Latin American countries, who played seminal role in transforming agriculture globally and saving the humanity from the curse of hunger.
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  • Indian researchers have developed a skin gel that inhibits the absorption of the most commonly used pesticides that can cause serious ill effects on health and, in worst cases, result in the death of pesticide handlers such as farmers.
  • A 13-member team from the Bengaluru-based Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), under the Department of Biotechnology, have formulated and patented the poly-Oxime gel made of chemically modified chitosan found in the shells of crustaceans such as lobsters, crabs and shrimps.
  • Work on developing the gel started in 2015, and assumes significance given that India is among the major countries that uses organophosphate-based pesticides in agriculture. Last year, 63 farmers died due to pesticide poisoning in Maharashtra alone and more than 1,000 were affected.
  • The gel, when applied on animal models, chemically deactivated or neutralised organophosphate-based pesticides on their skin and reduced the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) the most abundant enzyme in the central and peripheral nervous system and critical for controlling nerve signals in the body.
  • Organophosphates can result in neurological disorders, neurotoxicity, cognitive dysfunction, reduction in motor coordination, suffocation, paralysis, and in severe cases, death due to cardiovascular collapse and respiratory failure.
  • Researchers said suits, gloves, face masks, headgear, and boots, which can offer some protection from the pesticides, are scarcely used by farmers as they are expe-nsive and cause discomfort in tropical weather such as India’s.
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  • After Katrani rice, Jardalu mango and Magahi paan (betel vine), Bihars Shahi litchi has got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and has become an exclusive brand in the national and international market, an official said on 18 oct.
  • The famous Shahi litchi, which is famous for its sweet, juicy, unique flavour and aroma, is mostly grown in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts including East Champaran, Vaishali, Samastipur and Begusarai.
  • It has officially become an exclusive brand with the GI tag. We were informed about this positive development on 16 oct.
  • It was a much awaited news for Bihar's Shahi litchi, said Vishal Nath, Director of National Research Centre on Litchi (NRCL).
  • The GI registration was done in the name of Litchi Growers Association of Bihar, which had applied for the tag, said Bachcha Prasad Singh, President of Litchi Growers Association of Bihar
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  • The government has set a target of producing a record 285.2 million tonnes of food grains in crop year 2018-19 beginning July, despite monsoon rainfall has been 9% below normal so far this year. The target is 0.53% higher than the initial forecast made in April, the agriculture ministry said on 18 september
  • India harvested a record 284.8 million tonnes of food grains in 2017-18. For the current crop year, the government targets higher production of rice, wheat, oilseeds and cotton, while production of pulses, coarse cereals and sugarcane is expected to be lower than last year.
  • Kharif production this year is expected to be better to last year’s owing to excellent crop condition, ministry officials said.
  • They, however, did not explain the reasons for buoyant forecast for a year when rainfall has been below average and some parts of the country have been ravaged by floods.
  • Parshottam Rupala, minister of state for agriculture, said rains have been less than normal in some parts of the country, and more than normal in some places. “Despite that we expect higher production in kharif,” he said. “Due to water availability in reservoirs, even the rabi planting will be very good.”
  • The agriculture ministry has set kharif production target at 141.20 million tonnes, which is 0.71% higher than the target set in April.
  • The ministry also said it expects rabi planting which begins by mid-October to be higher than last year since there were good soil moisture and higher water levels in reservoirs.
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  • Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), developed by Subhash Palekar, a 69-year-old farm philosopher from Maharashtra, has been generating interest in a large number of farmers across the country. While the Andhra Pradesh government has adopted this model, Karnataka is set to experiment with it.
  • As the groundwork for launching ZBNF is under way, Mr. Palekar is confident it can ensure a minimum annual income of ₹3 lakh an acre for farmers.
  • What exactly is ZBNF? -It means compensating the cost of production of the main crop by the income from inter-crops. Also, none of the farm inputs should be purchased from the market. We should be able to either prepare or get all these inputs at our own farm.
  • More importantly, the inputs should not harm natural resources such as the soil and environment. Natural farming means allowing the self-nourishing system of nature to take care of plants. There should be no human interference in growth of plants.
  • Does it mean there is no tilling involved?- Yes. Barring a few crops, there is no cultivation. Plant nourishing should be left to nature. Nature has the capacity to take care of plants if there is no human interference. The self-nourishing system can be seen during severe drought. In such extreme conditions, the trees and plants grown by us within the farm wither away. But the naturally grown trees and shrubs on the bunds remain unaffected though nobody takes care of them.
  • What is its main ingredient?- We use a culture of micro-organisms made out of dung of a native breed of cows. One cow is enough to take care of farming on 30 acres.
  • What are the crops that can be brought under ZBNF?- All crops in the world can be cultivated through ZBNF, including coffee, areca, coconut and sugarcane.
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  • Poultry consumption in Vietnam, India, Indonesia and the Philippines (VIIP) has outperformed global growth in the past five years and is expected to continue growing through 2022, found Rabobank’s industry report “Foodservice is the new growth driver” launched on 13 Sep.
  • The report, which analysed poultry consumption trends in the four countries, found the growing demand for poultry chicken in particular is primarily driven by its relatively lower price point and acceptability across different cultures in VIIP. It also identified the key factors that will drive further growth in poultry consumption in the next five years.
  • Umesh Madhavan, Analyst of Consumer Foods at Rabobank, said, “In Vietnam, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, consumption preferences are increasingly gearing towards snacking and convenience. The growing acceptance of eating out and food delivery are proof of the changing consumer behaviour.
  • This growth pattern is supported by the significant millennial population in VIIP, who not only have a comparatively higher income but also are more likely to dine out and try different food options. These preferences will further boost the growth in foodservice.”
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  • Where do you think most of the fish we eat come from? The ocean. Wrong. Rivers and lakes? Wrong again. It’s from fish farms. Like Y Nagendranath’s green ponds at Konduru, a village in Krishna district in coastal Andhra Pradesh. Located 90 km east of Vijayawada, Konduru is near Pothumarru, which is credited with spawning commercial aquaculture in the state in 1980
  • Nagendranath took to it two years later, catching young fish from a nearby lake to breed in his ponds. The region was filled with paddy fields, he reminisces at his home on a warm afternoon.
  • Now there isn’t even a paddy stalk to be seen for miles. Instead, in and around Konduru, fish ponds of varying sizes glimmer on both sides of the road, with a row of palm trees marking every two ponds.
  • In Andhra, which accounts for a fourth of India’s fish production, Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts are the hub of aquaculture.
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  • Basmati grown in Punjab this year is likely to witness a major reduction in use of pesticides and fungicides that lead to rejection of export consignments from India. Alarmed by hurdles in export of rice from India, the state government is reaching out to farmers through Gurugwaras, public meetings and social media to dissuade use of Acephate, Cabandazim, Thiamethoxam, Tricyclazole and Triazophos chemicals responsible for higher residue level in rice.
  • There will be significant decline in use of hazardous chemicals in rice this year that cause hurdles in exports,” KS Pannu, Commissioner Food and Drug Administration Punjab told ET. “Any adverse effect on export of rice will have adverse effect on Rs 50,000 crore business in India and hit hard economy of the state,” he said. He maintained that an exhaustive awareness campaign is underway by joining hand with pesticide dealers, commission agents farmers and rice industry.
  • Punjab Agriculture University has already recommended alternatives to these five pesticides and fungicides. This season, Punjab, is expected to harvest a record output of rice. But stricter pesticide residue norms in global markets are posing hurdles to rice from the country.
  • As per study of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), over 400 refusals have been recorded of exports from India owing to presence of higher than approved level of pesticides residue. “But banning these chemicals is beyond the purview of state government as they are registered with the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, ” Pannu said.
  • In paddy, much of the pesticide and chemical is used in September and October. Dealers meetings are being held at district level as well as block level to dissuade them from selling these chemicals. “Posters are doting dealers markets across rice growing districts to aware farmers of harm caused by these chemicals,” an official of Punjab agriculture department said.
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  • Congratulating the Indian team involved in the research, Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan that this proves that our scientists are capable of matching the best in the world in any discipline.
  • In a major scientific breakthrough, a team of international researchers have decoded the wheat genome. The international team includes 18 scientists from India. Decoding the wheat genome had been considered insurmountable so far.
  • The information generated will help in identifying genes controlling complex agronomic traits such as yield, grain quality, resistance to diseases and pests, as well as tolerance to drought, heat, water logging and salinity.
  • Congratulating the Indian team involved in the research, Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan that this proves that our scientists are capable of matching the best in the world in any discipline. He also hailed the breakthrough adding that "cracking of the bread wheat genome will go a long way in developing climate-resilient wheat and help tide over possible impact of climate change on farm output."
  • In an article published in 'Science', the authors said, the DNA sequence has been ordered and it represents the highest quality genome sequence generated to date for the bread wheat. The reference genome covers 94 per cent (14.5 Gb) of the entire wheat genome. The bread wheat has a complex hexaploid genome which is 40 times larger than that of the rice genome and 5 times larger than the human genome.
  • The research article is authored by more than 200 scientists from 73 research institutions in 20 countries.
  • A team of 18 Indian scientists co-authoring this paper, led by Dr Kuldeep Singh at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana, Professor JP Khurana at the University of Delhi South Campus, and Professor Nagendra Singh at ICAR-National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, Delhi, contributed to the decoding of Chromosome 2A of the wheat genome. This project was financially supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
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  • Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has proposed to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to declare the year 2019 as international year of millets, said officials in the Agriculture ministry. This will promote cultivation by amending cropping patterns of areas which are especially susceptible to climate change, they said
  • The minister has requested the inclusion of this proposal in the agenda of the 26th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) meeting, scheduled during October 1-5, 2018 in Rome, they said.
  • In a letter addressed to Jose Graziano da Silva, director general, FAO, the minister said, “Along with the high nutrients and usefulness in various lifestyle diseases including obesity, diabetes etc, millets have an important role in enhancing resilience and risk management in the face of climate change, especially for small farmers and family farmers.
  • Hence it is highly desirable that global efforts are stepped up to bring these nutri-cereals back to the food baskets of a wide range of consumers, rural and urban as well as rich and poor, for boosting their production as well.”
  • Officials said that the matters has received support of the member countries when placed in the bureau meeting of the Committee on Agriculture held on July 5.
  • The minister had earlier written to the UN Secretary General pursuing on the said issue. India is celebrating 2018 as the national year of millets.
  • Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals, and includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
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  • Draft National rubber policy proposes steps to bring more area under rubber cultivation, price safety for farmers
  • The task force on the rubber sector set up by the Central government has proposed a national rubber policy with a package of measures to promote the production and consumption of natural rubber and safeguard the interests of domestic growers.
  • One of the major recommendations of the task force is to consider rubber as an agricultural crop rather than a commercial produce.
  • This, according to experts, would pave the way for declaration of Minimum Support Price and financial support under the Centre’s income doubling scheme for farmers.
  • In its report submitted to the Union Ministry of Commerce, the task force chaired by former Kerala Chief Secretary Paul Antony sought more restrictions on the import of rubber and enhanced production incentives for farmers to help them tide over the crisis caused by falling prices.
  • It mooted a nation-wide rubber production incentive scheme with the Centre and State government sharing the burden on a 50:50 basis. It also recommended a ban on the import of cup lump rubber and the imposition of safeguard duty and Minimum Import Price for natural rubber.
  • Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar said almost all the demands submitted by Kerala had been approved by the task force. “The recommendations, if implemented, have the potential to lift the rubber sector out of the current crisis and improve the lot of the growers”.
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  • Amid tightening food safety regulations overseas, rice millers are offering cash incentives to Basmati growers in a bid to wean them away from using pesticides.
  • Farmers are being promised Rs 500 more per quintal of paddy for not using pesticides and fungicides that do not confirm to latest global specifications, and also for limiting dosages of others, traders told ET. The incentive is expected to double for farmers in Jammu as harvest period draws closer.
  • Indian rice exporters are worried that Europe’s stringent norms on pesticide residue levels, and the likelihood of similar standards being adopted by Saudi Arabia, will hit exports of basmati if farmers fail to conform. As per a recent circular issued to exporters by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SAUDA), the pesticide residue levels have been restricted by 90%.
  • “It is not feasible to meet European specifications in exports to Saudi Arabia as exports to the continent are currently restricted to brown PUSA, whereas varieties in demand in the Gulf country are different,” said Sanjiva Rishi, head marketing at Kohinoor Foods.
  • Rice exporters have been advised by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) to not send high quantities of rice shipments to Saudi Arabia this week. The Gulf nation is warranting certification from exporters about compliance of MRL guidelines on shipments.
  • “There is possibility of shipments getting cancelled till the matter is resolved with the Saudi authorities,” an official at APEDA said.
  • Akshay Gupta, head of exports at KRBL, said, “Export of rice is already down to Europe and the US due to stringent residue norms and a hurdle in export to Saudi Arabia will affect basmati exports hard. The new norms from Saudi Arabia have come as a surprise as no timeframe has been extended for implementation.”
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  • The famous Kadaknath chicken meat from Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh has now got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
  • The tag denotes that the product comes from a particular geographical area, and often enhances its commercial value.
  • A Chhattisgarh-based organisation too had sought similar recognition for the Kadaknath chickens bred in Dantewada district, but Jhabua's claim seems to have prevailed.
  • The Gramin Vikas Trust of Krishak Bharati Cooperative (KRIBHCO) had sought GI tag for the protein-rich and black coloured meat of Kadaknath variety of chicken, which is mainly reared in Jhabua. As per the information available on the Geographical Indications Registry, India, the application, made in the category of "Meat Product, Poultry & Poultry Meat", was approved on July 30.
  • Regional Program Manager of KRIBCHO Mahendra Singh Rathore confirmed the development. The trust had applied for GI tag in 2012 on behalf of tribals of Jhabua district who breed the variety.
  • Chhattisgarh-based Global Business Incubator Private Limited (GBIPL) had also sought GI tag for the chicken breed, claiming that the birds are bred uniquely in the state's Dantewada district. When contacted, Dantewada collector Saurabh Kumar today said they would not challenge grant of GI tag for Kadaknath meat from Jhabua, as they did not look upon this as a "commercial dispute".
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  • They will be exposed to newer farming methods Eight women farmers have been selected to visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines to learn about new rice farming techniques, as part of an initiative by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), a Science Ministry body, to raise the profile of women farmers.
  • “Women farmers are an extremely significant contributor to the agricultural economy and yet aren’t adequately recognised,” said Dr. Shailja Gupta, a senior official in the DBT.
  • The eight women farmers were whittled down from a set of 35 farmers who were selected for a workshop at the IRRI’s centre in Bhubaneshwar. At the forthcoming workshop in the Philippines from 6-10 August, 2018, the women are expected to be exposed to “advanced farming experiences and technological advancements.” The women who will make it to the Philippines span five States: Uttarakhand, Assam, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • During the workshop in India, the women were taught about crop planning, stages of rice cultivation, pest and weed management, use of crop calendar, land selection, crop monitoring, post-harvest management and seed management.
  • According to the Census 2011, 55% of women workers were agricultural labourers and 24% were cultivators. However, only 12.8% of the operational holdings were owned by women, and 25% this land belonged to the “marginal and small holdings categories.”
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  • Agriculture Ministry has suggested several measures including setting up of a system for forecasting demand, green logistics corridor for perishables, and use of e-commerce, to boost shipments of agri commodities to USD 60 billion by 2022. Other steps suggested to Commerce Ministry in this regard include strengthening of domestic regulatory authority, review of Essential Commodity Act and involving Indian missions abroad.
  • Besides, measures like protecting farmers through appropriate duty instruments, and special safeguard mechanism have been suggested, a senior government official said.
  • The commerce ministry has floated a draft agriculture export policy and is seeking views of all stakeholders including different ministries and departments on the same.
  • In the draft, it has recommended stable trade policy regime, reforms in the APMC Act, streamlining of Mandi fee and liberalisation of land leasing norms.
  • The policy seeks to increase the shipments to over USD 60 billion by 2022 from about USD 38 billion.
  • The agri ministry has also suggested setting up of an administrative machinery for regular monitoring of the progress and to ensure that the goal is achieved by 2022.
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