Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Start-ups ride demand for desi milk

Kolkata: Thirty-six-year-old Poornima Krishnamurthy, the mother of one-year-old twins, was rather worried when she was asked to start feeding cow milk to her sons. Her concern was the high level of adulteration.

So Poornima, a corporate lawyer by profession, settled for farm fresh milk, which is considered to be rich in the A2 protein that aids brain development.

“We all know that the milk we consume is produced from cows that are injected with hormones. I began looking around for wholesome alternatives and came across this company, which is into farm fresh milk. I decided to buy from them,” she said.

Poornima is not alone. Organic farm fresh milk, which is produced primarily from cows of indigenous breeds, seems to have caught the fancy of many, leading to the mushrooming of a number of ‘farm-to-home’ dairy start-ups.

Dadaji Khobragade-A Lifetime in Rice

In a life that epitomised the struggles of the small Indian farmer, Dadaji Khobragade, the prolific rice breeder and farmer, strove against all odds to practise and uphold the core of traditional farming.

A small Dalit farmer from Nanded village in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, Dadaji Khobragade, 79, passed away on 3 June 2018; he had been ill following a paralytic stroke. Not many would have heard of this prolific rice breeder and farmer, although he made it to the Forbes list of the top seven rural entrepreneurs in India in 2010. The rice he developed, carefully selected and bred, known by the name HMT, is a saga all of its own.

Ducks wade through paddy fields to bump up profits

At the crack of dawn, Lipi Basak and her sisters Smriti and Mamti are already out of their home, with a group of quacking ducks ahead of them. It is raining. The road is muddy with small puddles. But this does not deter the feisty young women from reaching their ultimate destination — paddy fields about a kilometre away from their home.

Once there, the ducks, altogether eighteen of them, merrily glide onto the paddy ponds flapping their wings, wading past the tender saplings that are about 1.5 feet-2 feet tall.

“They have been brought here with a purpose,” said Lipi, a home maker turned neo-farmer from Keotal village in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal.

“The ducks eat up the harmful pests and weeds from our fields, their droppings make the soil fertile. This saves us from using chemical fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides and their escalating costs,” she informed.

Youth drive revival of traditional rice varieties in West Bengal

Twenty-eight year old Madhu Das is a computer professional from Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal. After completing his studies, unlike other youth around him, he did not migrate to a big city in search of a job. Instead, he chose to return to his native village of Hatiapaluibari and continue with his ancestral occupation of paddy cultivation — but with a difference.

“I was appalled by the frequent news of farmers’ suicides, their escalating debts, growing cost of farming inputs, worsened by crop failures due to changing and unpredictable weather patterns and above all, irreparable losses to environment,” said Das, who turned to his roots to revive some indigenously grown folk paddy seeds.

Promote organic farming in Meghalaya: Radha

Shillong: Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has asked the Meghalaya government to invest more resources towards promoting organic farming in the state.

Singh, who was on a two-day visit to the state, also interacted with a group of farmers at Lawsohtun here who have been promoting organic farming on a four-hectare land.

Organic solidarity

Overdependence on wheat and paddy through chemical-intensive farming is a flawed national food security policy. This erroneous approach is making Punjab’s agriculture unsustainable and creating a hurdle in the growth of organic farming, says Umendra Dutt.

Sustainable agricultural growth is the need of the hour. Many farmers in Punjab have realised that the chemical-intensive, water-guzzler paddy is no longer sustainable. Some of them have shifted towards organic farming to avert the impending crisis. As a result, organic farmers’ markets or ‘kisan haats’ have been set up in several parts of the state for the direct sale of organic products.

Manipur fruit for Delhi

Imphal: For the first time ever, one metric tonne (MT) of organic pineapples grown in the state was airlifted for trade from the international airport here and sent to New Delhi on Sunday, highlighting the success of organic farming in Manipur.

Horticulture and soil conservation department had tied up with NE Agro Products, a Gurgaon-based company, for selling fresh, organic and chemical-free Queen and Kew varieties of pineapples, weighing around 850gm to 1.5kg.

The passion for tilling

The global market for organic products has already crossed the $90-billion mark and is growing. India has emerged as one of the hubs for organic farming, driven by the passion of enthusiasts, find Vijay C Roy & Sunit Dhawan.

Self-motivated entrepreneurs are venturing into this exciting calling more out of passion than profit. Several adventurous people from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are leaving lucrative jobs to find solace in their newfound passion. Such is the attraction of organic farming that two young professionals from Rohtak – Jagmender Kundu and Amit Ahlawat – have left their cushy MNC jobs to make their career in natural farming.

Harvesting hope: the permaculture movement in India

On the first of June 2018, thousands of Indian farmers started a 10-day protest demanding farm loan waivers and higher prices for their products. This large-scale protest followed a long march by 40,000 farmers to Mumbai in March. India’s farming sector – which employs  most of the country’s labour force – has been in crisis for decades. A significant indicator has been the dramatic increase of farmers suicides which first entered the headlines in the 1990s. According to a government report which was released in 2017, since 2013 over 12,000 suicides have been reported every year.

Native cattle breeds gain ground in Tamil Nadu

Bringing home the prizes his bull had won in a Jallikattu event, Kaspar recollected the protests that happened last year. In January 2017, Tamil Nadu had erupted into protests to revoke a ban on Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport.

The protests were an eye-opener for Kaspar from Pudukottai district, since that is when he learnt about the importance of indigenous cattle breeds. Only indigenous breeds native to India are used in the sport, held in different forms in many states.

Each region of India has native breeds with distinct characteristics, suited to local conditions. Bargur is ideal as a draught animal for agriculture in the uneven, hilly terrains of western Tamil Nadu. Dual-purpose Badri, used as milch and draught animal, is suited for the hilly regions of Uttarakhand. Kankrej is a dual-purpose breed of the tough terrains of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

India has 37 indigenous breeds, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The other native breeds, lacking in distinct traits, are referred to as nondescript breeds. With signs of climate change clearly visible everywhere, conservation of native breeds that are hardy and better suited to withstand high temperatures has been gaining ground.

Story of natural beauty brand ‘SoulTree’

The idea behind SoulTree, the natural personal care and beauty label, was to create a product that contributes to sustainable living, while also supporting the livelihoods of women farmers in Uttarakhand.

“These were women who had taken up organic farming. They were given certain grants and aids by the state. However, they didn’t have a market, they were not sure what to grow. I felt there was an opportunity to partner and build a market for them,” says Vishal Bhandari, SoulTree’s CEO and founder, who took to entrepreneurship after a stint in the merchant navy.

In Rajasthan, cow urine is costlier than milk

Dairy farmers now have one more stream of revenue – cow urine. Farmers are using it extensively in organic farming and religious rituals and now it is selling at up to Rs 30 a litre in the wholesale market. In comparison, cow milk fetches farmers between Rs 22 and Rs 25 for a litre.

Farmers’ earnings have increased up to 30% as they have started to sell cow urine, The Economic Times reported. High demand for the product means farmers are selling urine of high breed cows, such as Gir and Tharparkar, at Rs 15-Rs 30 per litre.

WB to bring 1,000-acre area under organic farming

Kolkata: The West Bengal Agriculture department has set a target of bringing a land of 1,000 acre under organic farming in the financial year 2018-19. Asish Banerjee, the state Agriculture minister, said in the Assembly on Monday that 50 clusters with a total area of agricultural land of 1,000 acre will be brought under organic farming. He added that currently there are 120 clusters of organic farming.

Each of the clusters measures 50 acres and the clusters are spread across 13 districts of Bengal. The 13 districts include Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, Birbhum, Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore, Jhargram, Nadia, North and South 24-Parganas, East and West Burdwan,

State level training on organic farming held in Nagaland

With an objective to make agriculture sustainable, restore ecological balance, improve soil quality and health, promote indigenous crops and put an end to chemical farming, a two-day State Level Training Program on Organic/Natural Farming began on Monday. The training  program has been organized by Earth Friendly Generation in collaboration with Vishwa Yuvak Kendra (VYK), New Delhi for NGOs, VOs, CBOs, and government departments, at SIRD Conference Hall in Kohima.

Speaking on the concept of organic farming, founder and director Rural Connect (RC) Botoshe said organic agriculture was an integrated production management system which promotes agro-eco-system health, while also enhancing biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity.

New regulations to certify organic food likely to favour big brands

For 20 years, R Selvam has been painstakingly growing paddy, groundnut, coconut and sesame seeds organically in his 2.8-hectare farmland in Tamil Nadu’s Arachalur village. But July 1 onwards, Selvam can no longer sell the produce to organic retail stores due to a new regulation that bans the retail sale of food labelled as organic unless it has been certified by the government. The regulation, he says, will reduce his farm income by over 70 per cent, which is worth Rs 25 lakh a year. “I sell only 30 per cent of the produce directly to customers, which the regulation says can be done without a certification,” says Selvam. He fears that if the government does not come up with a cheap certification process for individuals, farmers like him might “disappear” altogether.

Organic certification agency to be set up in Haryana

With a view to promote organic farming in Haryana, an organic certification agency will be set up for grading and authentication of produce near the farms to ensure reliability of products.

This decision was taken at a review meeting of various projects chaired by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar here.

The chief minister gave directions to the concerned officers to constitute an organic certification agency, which will reach the source — farms — and certify to assure the consumer that the product is purely organic.

Explore environment-friendly scientific farming: Mishra

ITANAGAR, Jul 21: Stating that 60 percent of the total population of Arunachal Pradesh is engaged in agriculture and allied sectors, Governor BD Mishra urged scientists and researchers to carry out diverse and extensive research that would help in transferring locally suited technology to the end-users, farmers, traders and growers.
The governor said this during a meeting with Assistant Prof Dr RC Shakywar and technical staff Arun Kumar Singh of the College of Horticulture & Forestry (CHF), Pasighat, who called on him at the Raj Bhavan here on Saturday.

Mohali farmer enjoys success with organic turmeric cultivation, marketing

A 34-year-old farmer, Manvir Singh, of village Teerha is leading the way for unemployed modern youth with his success in organic farming. Once an employee of private companies, had left the job three years ago and started working on his 3.5 acre piece of land. With the help of advanced technology and modern techniques of market, now he is earning Rupees 8 lakh annually.

My mitti, my life and my death

He quit his IT job to understand India’s continuing agrarian crisis, then turned his work into a documentary. Prasun Chaudhuri chats with a filmmaker who wants to alert urban India and reassure those toiling in the fields

President to interact with Dantewada’s organic farmers

President Ram Nath Kovind is scheduled to visit Chhattisgarh’s Naxal-affected Bastar division on July 25-26 and take part in several programmes.

Chief Minister Raman Singh yesterday reviewed the preparations for the two-day tour of the president, during which the latter will visit Dantewada and Bastar (Jagdalpur) districts.

According to an official, Kovind will interact with farmers involved in organic farming in Dantewada and talk to the students of the Jawanga-based Education City.

Farmer collects rare, traditional rice varieties

Chennai: “People are buying diabetes these days and no medicine will cure this unless they change their food habit,” says N Nagarajan, strongly.

The 53-year-old drives throughout the Delta regions in search of farmers selling traditional paddy, and inturn sells it in rice format to people.

“Chennai city tops the list with more number of people buying traditional rice from us,” he says. Nagarajan possesses a rare collection of seeds and some of them, according to him, are not even with the government.

Vasudha initiative covers 35,000 organic cotton farmers

Pratibha Syntex, with interests in fibre, spinning, knitting and apparel, is aiming for $200 million in sales revenue by 2020 with a great focus on sustainability, said a top company official. It targets 50 per cent reduction in freshwater usage, 30 per cent reduction in energy and greenhouse gas emissions and 40 per cent reduction in generated waste by 2020.
The Indore-based company’s initiative EHSAS plans to focus on future initiatives related to environmental impact that will create health and safety benefits for its employees and social development opportunities for everyone associated with it, Sameer Kumar Bhand, vice president, sales, strategy and sustainability, told Fibre2Fashion in an interview.
Its farming initiative Vasudha, which covers 35,000 farmers over 170,000 acres, focuses on organic cotton cultivation.

Meghalaya accords top priority to incentivise farmers and augment production: CM

Shillong, Jul 19 (PTI) Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said north-eastern states should engage more with neighboring nations and the larger ASEAN region to promote trade, commerce and cultural relations.

Speaking at the 10th Edition of Delhi Dialogue in New Delhi, Conrad said Meghalaya has accorded top priority in providing all-weather road connectivity and accessibility to market centres, production centres and rural settlements to incentivise farmers and augment production.

By 2027, we hope all farmers will stop using pesticides: Expert

“What is happening in the fields will come to your plate and we as consumers need to be conscious about what we consume,” said Dr Ramanjaneyulu GV, executive director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad.

A pioneer in organic farming, who has motivated farmers against the use of pesticides in 17 states, Dr Ramanjaneyulu delivered a talk on ‘Poison in Food’ at the Chandigarh Press Club on Wednesday.

Hampered at home, Indian GM seed firms make inroads in Kenya & Ethiopia

New Delhi: As Genetically Modified (GM) seeds continue to remain blocked by activism of the left and the right, and fears of science, Indian seed companies that have suffered policy indecision are now beginning to find captive markets overseas, especially in fast-growing Africa.

One of India’s largest seed companies, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. Ltd (Mahyco) has entered into a contract with the Kenyan government to export GM cotton seeds. Mahyco has initiated various field trials currently being conducted in Mwea, Bura, Katumani, Kampi ya mawe and Perkerra, said sources.

Mahyco has a joint venture with BT seeds pioneer Monsanto called Mahyco Monsanto Biotech. Mahyco sub-licenses BT cotton technology in India through its collaboration with the US-based firm, acquired by Bayer last month.

Earlier this year, another Indian company JK Agri Genetics Ltd was contracted by the Ethiopian government for the import of BT Cotton Seeds.