Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Promotion of Zero Budget Natural Farming

NITI Aayog held a meeting on 9th July, 2018 to discuss the promotion of Zero budget Natural Farming.

Government of India has been promoting organic farming in the country through the dedicated schemes of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2015-16 and also through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

In the revised guidelines of PKVY scheme during the year 2018, various organic farming models like Natural Farming, Rishi Farming, Vedic Farming, Cow Farming, Homa Farming, Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) etc. have been included wherein flexibility is given to states to adopt any model of Organic Farming including ZBNF depending on farmer’s choice.

Battle to preserve seeds

Flashback 1986: Whenever farmer and social activist Vijay Jardhari and his friends would visit any village telling locals to conserve their traditional seeds and to continue consuming millets, people would make fun of them.

Now the same villagers are surprised with the mass acceptability of millets and the growing popularity of organic products. Vijay Jardhari and his fellow farmers started the ‘Beej Bachao Andolan’ (BBA), save the seed movement, at a small village Jardhargaon in Tehri (Uttarakhand) in 1986.

The movement remains unregistered and is more like a people’s campaign. Jardhari has dedicated his life to conserving traditional seeds, which otherwise would have disappeared due to wide acceptability of hybrid seeds among farmers.

Unique startup that will help grow a mini forest

Originating from the Kannada terms ‘hosa’ which means ‘new’ and ‘chiguru’ which means ‘sprout’, Hosachiguru is a leading agricultural asset management startup that is running over 30 sustainable green projects on 800 acres of land.

Four years ago, three engineers decided to quit their lucrative jobs at the peak of their careers. The reason? They wanted to undertake scientific and mechanised agriculture.

While the initial idea of the Bengaluru-based trio–Ashok Jayanthi, Sriram Chitlur and Srinath Setty, was to find a piece of land close to the city where they could practice organic farming and grow chemical-free food for their families, little did they know it would culminate into an innovative agri-startup, today known as Hosachiguru.

Shift to organic farming inevitable

Ludhiana,  A three-day training programme on “Organic farming – farm to fork approach” concluded at the PAMETI, PAU, Ludhiana.The training course was attended by 33 extension officials from the agriculture and allied departments.

Dr HS Dhaliwal, Director, PAMETI informed the officials about objectives of the training programme, detailing the need for adopting organic ways of cultivation and emphasised on new marketing strategies for organic produce.

Caritas India strives to make central India drought proof

Over the years, recurring droughts and frequent crop failures have driven the farming community of Central India to despair for several years on the trot. During the current period, a major part of Central India is reeling under the spell of drought that has created the severe water crisis. Farming communities of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra and Bundelkhand that straddles Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have lost their livelihoods to the cruel vagaries of nature.

Karnataka mulls sale of millet through Hopcoms outlets

BENGALURU: Keen to help farmers benefit from the rising popularity of millets, the state government is contemplating to start sale of millets through Hopcoms.

The price of Siridhanya (millets) is soaring with the rise in demand due to its health benefits. But farmers are not benefiting due to the menace of middlemen. “We want to encourage farmers to grow millets and help them get better price.

A proposal to sell them through Hopcoms and Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) outlets is under consideration. Such move will not only help customers get millets at a reasonable price, but also enables farmers to get fair returns for their produce,” Agriculture minister Shivashankar Reddy said.

Krishi India 2018 from 20-22 August

India: When agri and wellness and health experts gather to debate the future of sustainable rural development and healthcare, a uniquely insightful view of trends unfold. That’s what is expected to transpire at Krishi India 2018 expo and Wellness India 2018 expo to be held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 20-22 August 2018.

The Krishi India expo gathers policymakers, private sector, renowned experts, farmers’ organizations, agro-entrepreneurs, and users, etc., to exchange experiences and good practices on issues related to market, land and water access, innovation to create more inclusive and sustainable rural India and much more.

Participants from across the nation will discuss opportunities to build a stronger rural India through better policies for rural regions, examine how technology and innovation are enhancing crop quality and production, and how to work best with public and private partners.

Organic farming acreage increases to 23.02 lakh hectares

As per the official data , the current position of organic farming w.r.t. area covered across the country is 23.02 lakh hectares under the schemes Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) and National Programme of Organic Production (NPOP).

Under PKVY and MOVCDNER schemes enough assistance is provided to Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs)/ entrepreneurs for development of value chains/ marketing of organic produce. The guidelines for providing assistance for various post harvest management/ value chain development activities including infrastructure development, branding, marketing are given.

Tamil calendar aims to acquaint aspiring organic farmers with forgotten traditional techniques

Aadi pattam, thedi vidhai (seeds are best sown in the month of Aadi),” goes an old Tamil adage. “If you follow it, practically, you will get the desired results,” says K Kalimuthu, an organic farmer from Madurai.

“The time is perfect for sowing millets. Last year, I raised two acres of pearl millet and the harvest was bountiful. This time, I have procured seeds of the rare native variety of foxtail millet (senthinai) from a farmer in Kolli Hills.” The 33-year-old adds, “Every seed has a season, depending on the wind, rain and humidity conditions.”

Consumers are funding farmers to make food sustainable

When urban consumers start to think in earnest about their food, from the way it is grown to how they can access nutritious and safe supplies, then it can lead to a transformation in the way the food system operates. No longer able to access nutritious food that is free of pesticides and chemicals, consumers have been casting about them for alternatives. While some have settled for organic food available in supermarkets and niche outlets, a group consisting of 100 consumers from Hyderabad have decided to try a different route.
They believe that the farmer has to be the centerpiece of the new paradigm, and that a direct link with producers alone, will guarantee nutritious supply. After years of debate, the group, which is part of the Hyderabad-based Disha consumer movement that promotes ecological farming, has decided to provide direct monetary support to farmers who have been practicing traditional millet-based biodiverse agriculture for decades. In return, consumers will get an agreed quantity of grains after the harvest.

More TN farmers take to organic farming

Shivakumar, an entrepreneur-industrialist, started farming about five years ago on 40 acres at Sathyamangalam. In 2015, seeing the impact of chemicals on soil, he decided to go organic and it took him one-and-a-half years to clear the land, take up green mulching, and start organic cultivation. Today, his Madras Iyer Thottam (MIT) has expanded to 75 acres and he has another 13 acres in the Nilgiris, growing organic and traditional varieties of fruits, vegetables, paddy and pulses.

Several such agricultural lands are turning organic in the State every year. These include small farming clusters and large farms. According to the Tamil Nadu Organic Certification Department (TNOCD), which is part of the State Agriculture Department, so far this financial year, 700 acres have registered for organic certification.

Karnataka’s farmers are toiling on decaying soil

The creeping danger for agriculture may not be from the clouds above or the water levels in reservoirs, but from the slow death of the soil the farmer tills. In vast swathes of land in the State, organic carbon has depleted to a point where the soil cannot sustain life without extensive human involvement. Meanwhile, erosion, a result of the changes in landscape and agrarian practices, is seeing millions of tonnes of soil being washed away from fertile lands.

TSSOCA to certify organic products

Hyderabad: The Telangana State Seed and Organic Certification Authority (TSSOCA) added another feather to its cap with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry according it accreditation for inspection and certification of organic products in the State. Telangana is among the very few States in the country to get this accreditation.

In May, 2016, The State government had approached the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, seeking accreditation to certify organic products, with an objective of improving organic cultivation on a large scale in the State, TSSOCA Director Dr K Keshavulu told Telangana Today.

Subhash Palekar, pioneer of Zero-budget farming denies Rs 50 crore

BENGALURU : Pioneer of zero-budget natural farming in Karnataka, Subhash Palekar appreciates the Kumaraswamy government for having taken the first step towards natural farming in the state. However, he denied the need for Rs 50 crores allocated in the budget.“It is not going to be an easy task to change the mentality of people and convince them to take up zero-budget farming. I appreciate that the Kumaraswamy government has given importance to this method for the first time in this state,” says Subash, who began the movement here years ago.

How to beat climate change? Lessons from ‘progressive farmers’ of Karnataka

Kalaburagi district (Karnataka): “Year by year, the quantity of rainfall is decreasing,” said Shyamrao Patil, 55, a lungi-clad, generously mustachioed wiry farmer who has learned to read the changing seasons and–most importantly–adapt to them in a country where climate change has started affecting the livelihoods of a fifth of the population, or 263 million people, that depends on farming.

Here in the pigeon-pea (tur dal) bowl of Karnataka, Patil and his wife Laxmibai, 50, grow a variety of crops as one bet against climate change in an area where farming risks include water scarcity, increasingly erratic rain, rising temperatures and decreasing soil quality, we found in a 2018 study of 419 farm households. Further, 91% of farmers surveyed in Kalaburagi reported a decrease in rainfall over a decade to 2016, and 61% reported regular scarcities of water for farming, we found across four blocks in this arid, poor northern Karnataka district where several human-development indicators match those in India’s poorest state, Bihar.

Erode organic farmers set to take the sugarcane plunge

Going organic seems to be yielding rich dividends for the Erode Uyir Iyyarkai Vivasaigal Sangam (Erode Uyir Natural Farmers’ Society). So much so that its members are raring to go a step further and bring into their fold about 1,000 acres of land in Tamil Nadu for organic sugarcane cultivation.

The 64 members of the society have already undertaken organic farming on about 400 acres in the State.

Pesticides killing India’s agro exports

Punjab’s loss is Jammu & Kashmir’s gain. Exporters are preferring basmati of J&K because its farmers do not use pesticides and fungicides, and hence their produce commands premium, says Bhuwan Bhaskar

The soothing aroma of basmati has turned foul for thousands of farmers in Punjab. Recently, beginning of this week, the worst feared news for the exporters and farmers of the commodity came from Saudi Arabia that some containers of basmati rice having been exported primarily from Punjab, were rejected due to the presence of tricyclazole above the permissible limit.

In fact, it was just a predictable outcome after the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) emulated the fungicide levels as per European Union standards, with traces of tricyclazole permitted not more than 0.01 mg in a kilogram of rice. Since January, Norway, Sweden, England and Finland have already rejected at least 30 containers of basmati.

Pesticide: The silent killer

Despite the Supreme Court’s order to phase out some pesticides that are banned overseas, the Centre appears indecisive for reasons best known to it, while the states are hamstrung due to tweaking of rules, says Kavitha Kuruganti

Get these leafy greens onto your plate

Uncultivated food plants, that are considered weeds, are high in nutrition

These leafy vegetables look a little different, taste different and have unheard names such as Tadaka Dobbudu, Gunugu Koora, Adavi Soya Koora, Elaka Chevula Koora and a host of similar names. “They have a unique taste. They are cooked like vegetables or as khichdi,” says G. Bhargavi pointing to Jonnachenchali Koora, which has leaves slightly bigger than Thota Koora (Amaranthus).

Dubbed the Festival of Uncultivated Food Plants at a rustic cafe at Tellapur, the goal is to popularise the uncultivated vegetables. “These are seen as weeds that grow along with foxtail millets. When we asked the people why don’t they remove them, they told us that they eat them. Surprised, we sent samples to the National Institute of Nutrition for testing. The analysis revealed that the nutrients are often higher than the most commonly consumed greens in India,” informed Ms. Bhargavi, who is working on plant nutrition.

How primary school teachers can teach farmers about agricultural development

Farmers’ training in India is provided at the local level through Krishi Vigyan Kendras and some vocational agriculture schools. There are only 694 Krishi Vigyan Kendra in India which are not sufficient to provide village-to-village training to the farmers. Moreover, there is an inadequacy in terms of frequency of training imparted by the Kendra.

Village to village farmers’ training is essential to increase their income as well as sustainability of agriculture practices. Training provides an opportunity to the farmers to become aware of agricultural technologies and the shift in agricultural development.

Organic Basmati in Jammu and Kashmir

Organic Basmati production in Jammu and Kashmir started a few years back in Jammu region with the Department of Agriculture had started growing Basmati organically on 200 hectares in villages around Suchetgarh in the RS Pura sector, about 35 kilometers west of Jammu. A study by Dr. Rakesh Nanda and others in 2013 from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu also revealed that there were over 5,000 farm families growing basmati rice organically in 157 villages of Jammu, Samba, and Kathua districts of Jammu division of J&K on 4,900 ha of land.

The average size of these farms is 2-4 ha; the average area under basmati rice is 1-2 ha per farm. Since then the area and no. of farm families going for organic basmati production has surely risen. Although the yield decreases initially for few years, but it is compensated with the higher returns that organic Basmati fetches in the market. The fertile land in and around irrigated belt of Jammu region can be explored for production of organic Basmati rice. Through development of proper linkages the markets can be created for organic basmati growers where they can sell their produce. The higher returns from the produce will definitely motivate them to bring more and more area under organic basmati.

Celebrating three pioneers in the history of organic farming

Almost a hundred years ago the organic farming movement threw down the gauntlet and challenged industrial agriculture. Sir Albert Howard, his first wife, Gabrielle, and, following her death, his second wife, Louise, were the brave pioneers of this movement.

The Howards were a new breed. They merged the latest science with the ideals of peasant farming. Albert and Gabrielle fell deeply in love at the turn of the 20th century and forged a working relationship remarkable in the annals of science history. Side by side in the laboratory they united deeply held traditional values about Nature with the hard, cold facts of science.

Gave up an IRS job to sow the seeds of change in 7000 villages

Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu or Dr Ramoo as he is known, was born in a family where his grandfather practised agriculture but had quit and moved on to work for the Indian Railways. Ever since, most successors of the family continued to work for the national carrier. But Dr Ramanjaneyulu embarked on a road less taken. Much to the surprise of everyone, he decided to pursue a PhD in agriculture.

Passionate about the civil services, he even put in several hours of hard work to crack the Union Public Service Commission examination in 1995.

But when he was selected and presented with the option to work with the prestigious Indian Revenue Services, he refused. Instead, he opted to work as an agricultural research scientist with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to work with the tillers of the soil.

And before you think, his work with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research would bring him peace, let us tell you – it didn’t. After serving the council from 1996 to 2003, he quit, to establish a non-profit organisation called Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in 2004.

A CEO’s successful stint with farming

Shiraz Ansari, who runs an organic store in Technopark, juggles his job in the IT hub and his passion for farming

Harvesting banana, cleaning duck coops, recycling water in fish ponds and applying manure to plantain, lemon and passion fruit vines. That was the itinerary for Shiraz Ansari and his friends last Sunday when they met at Shiraz’s farm at Pangappara. From 10.30 am to 7 pm they toiled hard on the 12-cent plot, taking breaks in between. Things to be done for the coming week and shifts for each of them were also finalised before they dispersed. This is more or less of a routine for Shiraz and his team on Sundays.

Not just health, Millets are here to change Indian agriculture too

Millets promise better health as they can reduce the risk of many ailments. They are a strong source of proteins, fats, vitamins and other nutrients.

Seeking higher yields and thus better economic benefits, the vegetables, fruits and grains that we consume today are doused with chemicals and fertilisers. Reports suggest consuming such foods may lead to cancer.

In India, there has been a rising concern over the quality of food products, and we are seeing a slow-but-increasing demand for chemical-free and organic food. The organic food market is estimated at Rs 1,500 crore, and is expected to double to Rs 3,000 crore in the next three years.

Recognising the agricultural and health benefits of millets, the Government of India is promoting the cultivation of crops like nutri-cereals, which comprises sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet (ragi) and small millets, little millet (kutki), kodo millet, barnyard millet (sawa), foxtail millet (kagni) and proso millet (cheena).

“The government has prepared a roadmap to promote millets and achieve increase in area and output. They are targeting production of 46 million tonnes by 2022-23, taking it up from the current 17 million tonnes. A mini-mission called ‘NFSM – Nutri-cereals’ has been launched by the Ministry of Agriculture this year, with an allocation of Rs 300 crore,” says Ashok Dalwai, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.