Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Innovations reap benefits for Amravati div farmers

Nagpur: With drinking water being scarce, irrigation is a far cry at Borwa a tribal village 60 kms from Akola city. The only source for villagers, who mainly depend on jowar (sorghum) cultivation, is the rainwater flowing down from the hills around. Even the hill stream slowed down due to a dry spell three years ago.

A change in the matrix introduced by a 29-year-old college dropout saved the parched village from a crisis. Nasri Chavan suggested that the crops be grown in rows instead of columns. Earlier, when the lines were straight, water from hills could not be retained in the fields. With horizontal plantations the water stayed and the dry spell could be managed.

All farms in the village are right at the foothills. Outlets were dug to let water flow from one field to another. Chavan bagged the state government’s Krushi Bhushan award for innovative farming. The prize was handed by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis over last week.

Push for vendors of organic veggies & fruits

Until a week ago, R Raji spent her evening hours watching TV serials. Since getting a push-cart, she has been selling vegetables and fruits to customers in Anna Nagar from 5pm to 8pm.

She pays no rent for the push-cart and doesn’t have to buy vegetables and fruits from the wholesale market either. They are sourced from farmers by a team of voulnteers of TruTrade.

The not-for-profit organization launched Organic Thalluvandi to support the fast vanishing breed of pushcart vendors and small-scale farmers in and around Chennai. The push-carts, currently seen on the streets of Anna Nagar and Korattur, offer fresh vegetables and fruits at affordable rates. We launched Organic Thalluvandi in two places. The response is good. The organic vegetables and fruits you buy from here will be cheaper than any other organic stalls because we don’t expect profit. Our aim is to give maximum benefit to the farmer and the vendor, said Durga Smitha, one of the organisers.

Environmental impacts of genetically modified plants: A review

Powerful scientific techniques have caused dramatic expansion of genetically modified crops leading to altered agricultural practices posing direct and indirect environmental implications. Despite the enhanced yield potential, risks and biosafety concerns associated with such GM crops are the fundamental issues to be addressed. An increasing interest can be noted among the researchers and policy makers in exploring unintended effects of transgenes associated with gene flow, flow of naked DNA, weediness and chemical toxicity.

The current state of knowledge reveals that GM crops impart damaging impacts on the environment such as modification in crop pervasiveness or invasiveness, the emergence of herbicide and insecticide tolerance, transgene stacking and disturbed biodiversity, but these impacts require a more in-depth view and critical research so as to unveil further facts. Most of the reviewed scientific resources provide similar conclusions and currently there is an insufficient amount of data available and up until today, the consumption of GM plant products are safe for consumption to a greater extent with few exceptions.

This paper updates the undesirable impacts of GM crops and their products on target and non-target species and attempts to shed light on the emerging challenges and threats associated with it. Underpinning research also realizes the influence of GM crops on a disturbance in biodiversity, development of resistance and evolution slightly resembles with the effects of non-GM cultivation. Future prospects are also discussed.

Ravi Shankar’s Agri Inst to develop organic farming in Telangana

A delegation of Art of Living Guru Ravi Shankar’s Sri Sri Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Trust today came forward to provide necessary training and required help to encourage organic farming in Telangana. The delegation led by Uma Maheshwari, the head of Telangana, AP and Tamil Nadu states met Telangana Panchayat Raj Minister Jupally Krisshna Rao at Secretariat here and discussed on the need for organic farming and training among the farmers.

The delegation informed they are working with 18 states in the country and offered training for 1500 farmers so far on the organic farming which is key for more yield and less expenditure for farming.

They discussed on the use of organic farming and manufacturing of organic fertilizers and conducting seminars and training at selected places.

Cochin Devaswom Board to promote organic farming

KOCHI: Dont be surprised if the next time you go to your temple the priest offers you a collection of vegetables along with the prasadam. The initiative, which is being launched by Cochin Devasom Board (CDB), begins this Onam at all temples that come under its jurisdiction.

According to Cochin Devaswom Board president M K Sudarshan, in order to cater to the rising demand for vegetables, especially during festivals like Onam, the board has decided to promote organic farming at all the temples which come under it. The state depends heavily on the neighbouring states to meet its veggie requirements. The demand usually goes up during festival seasons. So does the price too, he said.

Goa govt to brand farm produce from state to gain market edge

The Goa government has decided to brand the farm produce from the state as Born in Goa to gain an edge in marketing. Goa Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai said such kind of branding will help distinguish and certify the agri produce from the coastal state. I suggest that there should be a brand for the farm produce. It could be called as Born in Goa. Such kind of branding will help to certify that the vegetable, fruit or flower is produced in Goa, Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai said.

The minister who has been holding a series of talks with the farmers said that the state government is in the process of formulating agriculture policy which will give thrust to floriculture, marketing the brand and organic farming.

Tribal women of Odisha have made farming organic, profitable & life-changing

Nirmala Barla (40), a passionate farmer of Sundargarh districts Brahmanamara village, is a proud woman because she feeds her family with a variety of safely grown food, and not just cereals grown by using lots of chemical fertilisers that are available in the market. In her 14 acres of land, both upland and relatively plain, she grows rice, millet and vegetables without using any inorganic fertilisers. After meeting consumption needs of the family, she is also able to earn a bit by selling the surplus farm produce.

Though keeping account of income and expenditure has never been the practice in her community, she has recently bought a power tiller and managed to meet all expenses of her elder daughters marriage without seeking a loan. Her present family of six members, after the marriage of a daughter, makes a good living out of organic farming alone.

No policy decision yet on GM mustard crop: Centre to Supreme Court

The Centre today informed the Supreme Court that so far it has not taken any policy decision on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J. S. Khehar and Justice D. Y. Chandrachud considered the statement of Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the government is considering various aspects of the matter and has invited suggestions and objections on the commercial roll-out of GM crops.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, alleged that the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and said the bio-safety dossier has to be put on the website, which has not been done yet.

Kurukshetras young farmpreneur to get national award

A 31-year-old farmer and entrepreneur Karan Sikri of Dhangali village of Kurukshetra district will get the National Jagjivan Ram Kisan Abhinav award of the Indian Centre of Agriculture Research (ICAR) on Sunday.

Karan will receive the prestigious ICAR award from the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi on the ICAR foundation day. The award is given for outstanding contributions of innovative farmers for initiatives in development, adoption, modification and dissemination of improved technology. Under this award he will get ₹ 1 lakh cash award.

Spread over 25 acres of land, the farm is also a learning centre for the young agriculture students as it teaches them how to produce vermicompost for organic farming, subsurface irrigation and dairy farming, installing Netafims drip irrigation, bee keeping, organic honey manufacturing, animal husbandry and high-tech farming.

Farmers in West Bengal are going back to indigenous rice varieties

Eighty-two-year-old Samatul Mandal from Ula village of Howrah district belongs to a family of farmers who have been growing a rare variety of indigenous rice or folk rice variety (FRV)Rani Akandafor the past four generations. The rice is very tasty, slender-grained and light, says Mandal, as he shows us the familys ancestral land of about half a hectare (ha). My great grandfather had begun its cultivation nearly two centuries ago. We have kept the tradition alive, says Mandal. He claims getting the same yield (4 tonnes/ha) as his forefathers, and that too, by using organic manure. He believes indigenous paddy can, to an extent, withstand climate change-induced aberrations in weather.
But still there was scepticism about the prospect of FRVs. Five years ago, when I started cultivating them on my 5 bighas of land (0.81 ha), my relatives called me mad, recalls 43-year-old Parul Begum from Bhattadighi village of Uttar Dinajpur district. However, her family, which was growing a modern high-yielding variety (HYV) of paddy, was surprised to see the production of Bahurupi and Kerala Sundari, rice varieties native to Purulia district. On an average, I raised about 700-750 kg per 0.16 ha as opposed to 550-650 kg under HYV production, says Parul. Her story sends a message: organic FRV farming is cost-effective and sustainable. Parul is now a part of the Forum for Indigenous Agricultural Movement (FIAM) that works towards conserving indigenous seeds.

Rajasthan not to allow GM mustard even if Centre approves

The Rajasthan government today said it will never allow commercial cultivation of GM mustard even if the Centre approves it, maintaining that its traditional varieties are giving much better yields than the GM crop.

Biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has already approved a proposal on genetically modified (GM) mustard variety developed by the Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants.

The final nod from the environment ministry is awaited amid strong opposition from green activists.

Haryana to introduce seed bill: Minister

Gurugram, July 13 (IANS) Haryana Agriculture Minister O.P. Dhankar on Thursday said that a seed bill will be introduced for the first time in the next session of the state Assembly.

Dhankar has instructed his departments officials to prepare a seed bill on the suggestions given by experts in the second session of the two-day seminar held in Gurugrams Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA).

He said that the draft of this Act should include all species of seeds related to the Agriculture and Horticulture Department, besides full details of pesticides and insecticides management.

IFFCO MD meets farmers on highlands of Leh-Ladakh

Addressing a mammoth gathering of farmers and cooperators in the tough terrain of Leh and Ladakh, IFFCO Managing Director Dr US Awasthi stressed on the need of turning the area into a hub of organic farming.

Promising to use every resource at IFFCOs command Awasthi said we should take recourse to traditional method and desist from over-using chemical fertilizer. The occasion was Farmers Connect Campaign launched by MD in the beginning of the Golden Jubilee Year.

Pune’s Swayam Shikshan Prayog bags UN Equator Prize

Till 2012, 60-year-old Vanita Sahebrao More used to spend INR 40,000 (USD 620) every year to cultivate soybean, sorghum and cotton on seven acres of land in her village in drought-prone Nanded district in Maharashtra. The district is part of Marathwada, which is infamous for crippling droughts and farmer suicides.

This changed five years ago when she adopted the so-called one-acre model, an innovative way of practising climate-resilient agriculture. Starting off with half an acre, she today manages around 3.5 acres of land, and cultivates vegetables, wheat, pulses and turmeric with 100% organic inputs. Instead of the traditional approach of focusing on cash crops, More has been trained to put nutritional needs of the family to the forefront. She grows mainly food crops for the familys consumption, crucial during the far-too-common drought years. She sells the surplus in the market, which fetches INR 45,000.

Assocham seeks lower GST rate for bio-agro inputs

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS) Industry lobby Assocham on Wednesday urged the government to lower the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates for select agricultural inputs, failing which use of chemical fertilisers will get a boost.

Higher GST in this segment will directly promote chemical use, thereby leading to an increase in green house gas emissions. Besides, it will also adversely impact public health, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a communication addressed to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here.

It asked the government to lower the tax rates on biofertilisers, biopesticides/biological control agents (BCA) and branded organic manure/vermicompost/ farmyard manure (FYM).

How renewable farming can solve problems of climate change and conflicts

By Dr Vandana Shiva

Climate change talks are often centred on renewable energy. Nobody talks about making farming renewable. Around 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to chemical farming. It emits carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuel required to make chemicals.

Their origin goes back to World War II, when those manufacturing explosives using nitrogen realised that the same could be used to make fertilisers. After the world war, the factories could have shut down but those who had gotten used to profiteering did not want to quit. A whole new science of farming was raised and farmers were told that nitrogen fertilisers are good.

If we give it a thought, our pulses fix nitrogen as well. Their roots have rhizobium bacteria which fix nitrogen and give us good nutrition. But the green revolution did not have pulses. It focused on rice and wheat and the result is for everyone to see. Not only it cheated the earth of its natural nitrogen fixators, shortage of pulses also led to a rise in their prices.

Ashadh Mela showcased food that disappeared from our platters

Millet golgappas, tumdee potato parathe, kundru chutney and mahua murukus may sound exotic but they travelled a long way from farm to plate at the Ashadh Mela in Delhi recently. In an attempt to help the native grains of the country make a comeback on our plates, Bhoomi Ka, an organic food campaign and INTACH put together the day-long organic food festival, centred around foods that have, over the course of time, become unpopular.

PGS Certification picks up pace in Kerala

The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralams (VFPCK) efforts to promote organic farming under the Participatory Guarantee System – India (PGS), a decentralised organic farming certification system of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, has gathered momentum in the district with ten farmers local groups registered in just over a year.

Each group has only five to seven members since the focus is not on forming larger groups. Farmers engaged in organic farming are considered for membership.

The Participatory Guarantee System of certifying organic produce is expected to help scale up organic farming and provide reliability for produce being sold under the organic tag. The conventional system of certifying organic produce has been found to be too cumbersome and costly for farmers with small holdings.

Seed for diversity: We sow diversity where others destroy it

This year, if the merger between the agrochemical giant Bayer in Germany and Monsanto, the American seed and pesticide manufacturer, goes ahead, “BaySanto” will become the largest supplier of seeds and pesticides in the world. This would result in a market concentration, and concentration of power, in the agricultural sector.

Miseror think that is dangerous for democracy and for the whole food system. Just a few corporations can then decide how we live, work and eat.

The negative impacts of this agribusiness on people and the environment are already obvious, especially in the countries of the Global South. Yet for many years lots of small-scale farmers all over the world have shown that there are workable alternatives in farming. Their methods are democratic, socially aware, suited to local conditions and environmentally sound. Not only that: they can tackle the hunger in the world, too

Awareness campaign on Organic Cultivation

TAWANG, Jul 10: A district level awareness campaign on importance of Organic Cultivation was conducted at deputy commissioners conference hall here on Monday which was attended by HoDs, PRI members and farmers of the district.
Speaking during the programme EAC Tawang Lobsang Tsetan highlighted the importance of Organic Farming and how the same is beneficial for environment at large. Dwelling at length about the ill effects of chemical fertilizers, EAC apprised the participants regarding the loss of soil fertility due to excess use of chemical fertilizers and contamination of water sources.
The programme sponsored by K Link Health Care (India) Pvt. Ltd was jointly organized by the Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, Tawang. (DIPRO)

Not enough done for farming in Nepal for 10 years

If you are from outside Kathmandu and happen to meet Francois Driard, he may surprise you with his questions. Where are you from? he shall ask and most probably, you will name your district. Tell me exactly which place in the district, he will ask you further.

Once you give him the exact name, he shall want to connect it to the district headquarters and comment in Nepali with his French accent: Tala, dherai tala rechha! (Or mathi or some other direction.)

Scientists request PM to halt GM mustard release

Nagpur: Eighteen scientists from the city have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsing mustard expert Sharad E Pawar’s concerns over flaws in GM crop Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11). They requested the PM not to allow environment ministry to release the hybrid. Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had cleared the crop for commercial cultivation.

How Group Organic Farming Empowered Tribal Farmers in Tamil Nadu

Coimbatore district: We took a chance and tried something different, saidRajan, a farmer from a small tribal village called Sadivayal in Tamil Nadu. The result was selling a new crop for double the price of anything we had grown before. Not only that, but the seeds we planted gave us a double yield.

Organic farming gaining pace

Anantapur: The Agriculture department in the district is promoting natural farming cluster villages to raise plantations and agriculture crops through natural farming manure. In each cluster, 10 villages would adopt natural farming methods and techniques to completely do away with the use of chemicals and fertilisers.

Guardian of our soil

In the last few years, there are areas in India where efforts are being made to revive the soil. Many farmers have accepted the damage chemicals can cause to the fertility of soil and even without being environmentalists; those people prefer the policy of farming with nature.

In Punjab, a cow urine-based preparation has been introduced to revive microbial action in the soil; this is in addition to mulching, which increases soil bacteria, microbes and earthworms.