Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Centre to make labeling process of organic agricultural products simpler

The government is planning to make the certification and labeling process of organic agricultural products simpler and cost effective to narrow the price difference between conventional and hybrid products.

“The government is considering reducing the overall cost of agriculture products, including organic ones, to help farmers double their income by 2022,” Union Agriculture Minister Parshottam Rupala said on the sidelines of the New India Startup Conclave in Mumbai.

“Organic agricultural products have huge potential to increase their domestic consumption and exports. Hence, the government is looking to reduce the overall cost in certification and labeling of organic products also.”

Try your hand at indoor farming & grow these 5 veggies at home!

Monsoons are all set to make an entry and if you think any of your gardening plans are going to be dampened, fret not!

Of course, gardening in the backyard might not be a feasible idea, but hey, this is perhaps the perfect time to put your terrace or even indoor space to some use.

We, at The Better India, have covered many stories of people whose love for gardening led them to make the best of their limited spaces and turn them into veritable oases of vegetables and fruits.

Eco-friendly seaweed farms are boosting incomes of 600 TN fisherfolk

When seaweed farming was unheard of in India, Abhiram Sethi was driving a project for PepsiCo. He was working as a Director in-charge of exports in agriculture. It would not only prove that seaweed could be cultivated and processed into products, but also become a sustainable source of income for coastal communities in Tamil Nadu.

And so, in 2008, when he decided to leave the company, he asked PepsiCo if it would still run the project. The multinational giant told him that they would eventually shut the project or sell it to someone who could take it forward.

Buying out the business along with the entire team, Seth moved on to start AquAgri, one of the first companies in the country to get into commercial seaweed cultivation.

Ryots on rooftops

Hyderabad: Rooftop farming has become a viable choice for urban agriculture on account of decreasing agricultural land, especially in Indian cities. It has the potential to play a significant role in urban environment management and to improve the continuously deteriorating quality of air, while offering organic and fertilizer-free produce.

Growing local and organic food on rooftops has an additional benefit of helping improve nutrition and health. About 40% of adults consume fast food every day, according to the Centre for Disease Control. The growing fast food epidemic has been directly associated with increased rates of obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Delhi farmers go organic, watch yields and health improve

KHERA KALAN: In the world we live today, whether it’s the air we breathe, the water we drink or the food we eat, everything contains a growing share of pollutants. When it comes to food, particularly fruits and vegetables, most of it is grown with the help of synthetic fertilisers, insecticides, and pesticides.
Farmers make excessive use of these, regardless of the consequences to human or environmental health, in order to maximise their profits, but they fail to understand the side effects in the long run, or disregard them because of the effects of competition.
To cope with this situation, organic farming has proved quite effective. Today around 2.5% of arable land in India, or 1.5 million hectares, is cultivated using organic methods.

Odisha makes its mark in global spice markets

BHUBANESWAR: India is one of the largest producer and exporter of spices in the world. It is also a big consumer of spices. We have an illustrious history of producing and exporting spices to around 80 countries.

Western countries and the nations of West Asia look to India for importing spices. The country is known widely for producing high-quality spices like cumin, black pepper, cardamom, ginger, chillies and turmeric. It produces around 60 spices thanks to its diverse climatic conditions.

JSPL Foundation organises capacity building workshop for organic farmers

Barbil: JSPL Foundation, the CSR arm of Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) organised a one-day training programme on capacity building for farmers of Deojhar gram panchayat at Gobardhanpur. The interface meeting was attended by around 50 local farmers, agriculture officers and bank officials.

Brushav Mohanta, assistant agriculture officer, Joda Block spoke on traditional agriculture practices and methods of seed treatment and low yielding due to poor germination of seeds. He suggested to adopt advanced seed treatment procedures that protect against yield-reducing seed and soil-borne diseases. For sustainable agricultural production, he stressed to pursue organic farming.

To stay truly organic

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With fake organic products flooding the markets across the state, the Kerala Commissionerate of Food Safety (KCFS) has decided to step up measures to ensure quality organic produce for the consumers. Currently, unorganised players without any mandatory certification are selling organic products at exorbitant rates as the state has failed to regulate them.

To end the malpractices in the sector, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has mandated organic logo in products being sold across the nation from April 1, 2019.

To begin with, the state authorities are planning to give organic certification for rice and pepper being produced in Palakkad and Idukki respectively by next month.

Retd Mysuru techie creates 14,000 sq ft organic garden for all!

For Harish Mysore, it is all about making choices that benefit not just the self, but everyone around.

And that’s one of the reasons why this 67-year-old moved cities from Bengaluru to Mysuru.

“I have been passionate about gardening since childhood. In the past six decades that I have lived in Bengaluru working as an engineer, I managed to build a terrace garden from scratch and maintain it. But after retirement, I knew that I needed more. It was a dream to move to Mysuru, a cleaner and less congested city, and that came true in March 2018,” said Harish, while speaking to The Better India (TBI).

Plum job not enough, he lives his passion

Jalandhar,Having left a well-paid job to pursue his passion for organic farming, 29-year-old Anurag Arora has set an example for many.

He pumped all his savings into the start-up he named as MINK Organics, based at Kewal Vihar here. Anurag aims to empower Punjab through healthy food and education in organic farming.

It was four years ago when Anurag left his job as HR head at Trident Group, Batala. During his job, he witnessed the drug menace first-hand in the Malwa belt. That’s exactly when he felt that something was missing in his life and he wasn’t contributing towards his motherland.

He then decided to quit his job and started Mink Organics to help people around and improve their health.

Owning no land couldn’t stop this couple from starting an organic revolution!

KP Illias from Kerala and Shamika Mone from Maharashtra are perhaps the best example for the fact that a shared passion is the recipe for lifelong happiness.

Together, they have been silently driving an agrarian revolution in the country in recent years, and have not just guided seasoned farmers but also driven interest in youngsters to pursue organic farming.

But here’s the catch: they don’t have a single patch of land to their names!

How a corporation patented Ethiopia’s most common staple

In 2005, the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity and Conservation partnered up with the Dutch company Health and Performance Food International (HPFI) to marketize one of Ethiopia’s most valuable staples, the teff grain – the main ingredient found in injera bread, now widely dubbed a cosmopolitan ‘superfood’.

The agronomist Jans Roojsen, who spearheaded the project under HPFI, applied for the patent in 2003 and gained it in 2007, thus acquiring the rights to market, sell or import the grain as they wanted without the Ethiopian partnership – meaning that HPFI alone had the rights for the teff grain.

In the beginning, this was seen as a profitable exchange. The Dutch were to be supplied with grains and indigenous foods to market in Europe and local producers were supposed to be paid for their stock, benefiting from a so-called ‘development fund’.

But, the success of the grain never materialized and HPFI went bankrupt in 2009. The agreement with Ethiopia no longer existed and the country only managed to get €4,000 (USD$ 4,479.00) in profits over the five years of cooperation.

Eventually, according to a report made by a Norwegian environmental research institute in 2012, the founders of the Dutch project bought back the patent on teff for €60,000 (USD$67,000).

The report calls the move a clear case of ‘biopiracy’, writing that ‘Ethiopia found itself discarded, prevented from using its own genetic resources in several European countries.’

Pesticide overdose goes unchecked in Punjab

Jalandhar, While an FIR was lodged against suppliers of spurious pesticides in the city on Wednesday, the use of spurious pesticide sellers in the district on Wednesday, spurious pesticides are being sold with impunity in the state increasingly as – a lucrative business – the pesticide sellers continue to operate openly.

While the state has one of the most notorious tales of contamination of ground water due to pesticides in the region which is leaving a trail of cancer deaths in many villages, farmers say notwithstanding the occasional arrests, the quality and measure of pesticide being sprayed onto fields is unregulated and largely unmonitored.

200 Andhra villages take to natural farming and ban use of chemicals

Anantapur: About 200 villages under 20 clusters involving 100,000 farmers have been declared ‘natural farming’ villages by the department of Agriculture in the district. The department’s natural farming project is part of the government’s plan to popularize natural farming and bring down the use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture crops.

Encouraging illegal planting of BT brinjal in India

In February 2010, the Indian government placed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal. Prior to this decision, numerous independent scientific experts from India and abroad had pointed out safety concerns regarding Bt (insecticidal) brinjal based on data and reports in the biosafety dossier that Mahyco, the crop developer, had submitted to the regulators.

The then Minister of the Ministry of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had instituted a unique four-month scientific enquiry and public hearings. His decision to reject the commercialisation of Bt brinjal was supported by advice from renowned international scientists. Their collective appraisals demonstrated serious environmental and biosafety concerns, which included issues regarding the toxicity of Bt proteins resulting from their mode of action on the human gut system.

5 engineers who became organic farmers to earn better & live healthier!

It takes a great deal of courage to forsake one’s four-years worth of degree (sometimes even more) and well-paying jobs to pursue something as basic as farming.

Engineering was once, and perhaps still is, the most sought after career lines in India, but you’ll all agree that in recent times, more and more people are bidding goodbye to their respectable jobs and hefty pay packages to pursue something in which they really believed.

I personally know friends and acquaintances who took up engineering under parental pressure. Though some chose to make the switch early, others didn’t have the luxury and it would take them years to finally break free.

There are engineers who became filmmakers, kick-started their own startups or pursued their love for cooking. But it takes a great deal of courage to forsake one’s four-years worth of degree (sometimes even more) and well-paying jobs to pursue something as basic as farming.

Techie-turned farmer helped villagers embrace organic farming in Maharashtra

Fifty-three-year-old Venkat Iyer quit his lucrative job as a Project Manager at IBM, went on to convince 70 adivasi farmers to take up organic farming, and even helped them market their produce.

Venkat Iyer was leading a comfortable life in Mumbai. He was at the peak of his career in his role as Project Manager at International Business Machines (IBM) when he resigned from his position.

“I was always inclined towards agriculture as an occupation. However, the state of the industry in India has been grim. Though it is considered a mainstay in the country, many farmers are known to have sold their land and moved on to become daily wage laborers due to poor income. Hence, I decided to do my bit to help these farmers improve their earnings and reap the benefits they deserve,” Venkat Iyer tells YourStory.

Professionals take to organic farming

Jalandhar,  The Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM) today organised a meeting with farmers from the Doaba region to discuss benefits of organic farming. Members associated with the mission said a person associated with the medical profession attended the meeting and had shown interest in organic farming.

“People from different professions like doctors, pharmacists, or from other sectors have started showing interest in organic farming. They have started thinking that there is no way out than organic farming to protect one from deadly diseases spreading fast in the society,” said Pankaj Jain, one of the prominent members of the Kheti Virasat Mission.

“The inclination is being observed towards, kitchen gardening and other activities that deals with organic farming,” said Jain.

Govt to promote organic cultivation of indigenous cotton in 3 states

NEW DELHI – The government, under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, is planning to promote the cultivation of indigenous varieties of cotton in the leading growers–Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka–a senior government official said.

“We are encouraging farmers by providing them seeds, and agri-inputs at lower rates to grow more organic cotton. Organic cotton is healthier for human use in comparison with genetically modified varieties,” he said.

Centre is helping farmers to add more area under indigenous varieties of cotton by improving soil health and fertility so that they can get better remuneration. Currently, around 1,000 ha is under organic cotton in the three states, he said.

Kerala farmer’s food forest helps him reap gold from black pepper!

At 2,230 feet above sea level, there is little chance that you will come across an organic farm, let alone a thriving food forest.

Which is why the 5-acre patch of self-sustaining farmland, inside the densely forested village of Patteyakudi in the Idukki district of Kerala, comes as such a surprise.

Here, you will find all sorts of vegetables, native and wild fruits found only in the Western Ghats, medicinal plants and many varieties of spices, being grown without any difficulty.

India must adopt stricter regulation of genetically engineered crops, or face biosecurity breach

India’s seed market hides a sea of illegality, which keeps rearing its ugly head every once in a while. The discovery of genetically modified brinjal in a Haryana farmer’s field is the latest in the list of illegal seeds that have cropped up in India since 2001. That year, it was illegal Bt cotton (a genetically-modified, pest-resistant plant cotton variety); in 2009 it was illegal herbicide-tolerant (H) cotton; a few years later, it was a newer version of Bollgard cotton, or BG 3 as its locally called, and in 2017, a herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybean. All this without official approval from the regulator and enforcer of the law for genetically-engineered crops in India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

This situation puts the role of the GEAC (formerly Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) squarely under the scanner. An apex regulatory body, with powers to take punitive action when needed, under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), the GEAC seems to have turned a blind eye to these developments.

Karnataka tribal woman turns into organic ‘super farmer’, now earns in lakhs!

In 2007, when the Karnataka state government offered a voluntary relocation package to the 60 families of the Jenu Kuruba tribe, they all signed up and moved from Nagarahole National Park to start a new life in Sollepura colony in HD Kote.

As part of the scheme, the government provided each of these families with a resettlement package of Rs 1 lakh which included Rs 1,000 in cash, a house and three acres of land in the new colony to help them earn decent livelihoods from farming.

One among the people who shifted was Daasi, a widow. Just two months before the move, her husband sadly passed away unexpectedly, leaving the responsibility of their ten children on her.

Zero waste to organic food

For many, home is where the heart is. But, for this 62-year-old woman, home is where just not the heart but also health resides.

Meet Bhavna Shah, who is setting a positive example for generations to follow.

Her home, situated in the quiet of Thaltej-Shilaj road in Ahmedabad, is a world of its own, where she strives to create an ideal sustainable lifestyle, every single day.

Pune store creates zero waste, encourages customers to do the same

Started by Akshay Agarwal and Gajendra Chowdhary, Adrish gives you a complete eco-friendly experience, and focuses on the concept of creating zero waste by not using plastic and non-biodegradable products.

Plastic is found every where today – at home, on roads, in oceans, in animals as well as in the food we eat.

Apart from its ill effects on our health, it is also in many ways responsible for climate change. While there has been a lot of talk about banning the use of plastic, implementing it successfully has been a task still far from being achieved.

And driving this change by going green and discouraging the use of plastics in its primary usage is Akshay Agarwal, a chartered accountant. The 26-year-old, along with his friend, Gajendra Chowdhary, co-founded Adrish, a zero-waste organic lifestyle store chain in Pune.

Bengaluru’s organic farmers’ markets are a reflection of the ‘farm to table’ culture

The ‘Farm to Table’ culture in Bengaluru has picked up in the past few years. Though there are several organisations and initiatives that promote this idea, the process of buying organically grown food directly from the farmer is something that is picking pace in the city — thanks to the farmers’ markets that are held here often. These markets are not just places where one can get organically grown food, but it’s also a place for interaction between the farmers and consumers and more…