Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

Project to double Assam farmers’ income

Guwahati: Union minister for agriculture and farmers’ welfare Radha Mohan Singh on Tuesday said the Assam government will launch an integrated cooperative development project in December with the aim of doubling farmers’ income.

Talking to the reporters at the BJP state headquarters here, Singh said the Rs 6,000-crore project will cover all potential sectors like agriculture, organic farming, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, storage and cold storage, processing of agricultural products and computerisation of the cooperatives.

Fair promotes organic farming

To promote organic farming, a two-day ‘Mungaru Beeja Mela’ (monsoon seed fair) was held in Bengaluru  from Saturday.

In addition to displaying various types of seeds, information was provided to visitors on easier methods of growing vegetables organically on their terrace and on residential premises.

Organic farming activist H.R. Jayaram appealed to urban people to grow vegetables by adopting organic methods.

Centre to showcase Sikkim’s success in organic farming

New Delhi: In a move aimed at giving a push to organic farming across the country, the Union Agriculture Ministry has decided to showcase the performance of Sikkim in organic farming as the model for its Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). As per officials, the initiative would help in encouraging farmers to adopt organic farming. As per the latest report of Agriculture Ministry, out of government’s total 50,000 hectares target to bring under organic farming in the North Eastern states, 45,918 hectares have been made suitable for organic farming and 2,429 farmers’ interest groups have been formed, thereby connecting 48,949 farmers with the scheme.

External agencies to help Dantewada become ‘fully organic district’

In order to achieve an ambitious target of converting Dantewada into a complete organic district in coming years, engagement of external agencies is being sought to achieve results in a limited time period, officials informed.

The Agriculture Department in Dantewada is promoting Organic farming and Sustainable Agriculture based livelihood among the farmers of Dantewada since 2013-14.

Dantewada is among the districts in Chhattisgarh which are very remote and affected severely by Left Wing Extremist (LWE) activities. Forest Produce and Agriculture are two most important sources of livelihood for the communities in the district. However, the forest based livelihood is limited and gradually weakening due to increasing population and various other changes.

Special teams formed to promote organic farming

Ludhiana, The Horticulture Department has been sensitising farmers of Ludhiana district under mission “Tandarust Punjab” about the benefits of organic farming.The Department has formed special teams which organise awareness camps in different parts of the district.

Dr Jagdev Singh, Deputy Director, Horticulture Department said more than 30 such camps have already been organised in various parts of the district, where more than 1,200 farmers have been sensitised about the benefits of organic farming.

Organic farming push by CPI(M)

The CPI(M) in Kerala has launched ‘Onathine Orukutta Pachakari,’ an organic farming initiative in the district.

CPI(M) District secretary R. Nazar said that the aim of the scheme was to make available pesticide-free vegetables during the Onam season.

“Organic vegetable farming is done by farmers and farmer groups across the district. The farmers will be provided help from various cooperative societies and local self-government institutions,” Mr. Nazar said.

Benefits of organic farming in Pakistan

Organic farming in Pakistan is basically an environmental friendly ecosystem management, which eliminates the usage of all genres of synthetic inputs. It aims to decrease the production cost to attain self-sufficiency in all the inputs of agri-products.

Organic farming helps to sustain an environmental friendly impact by avoidance of use of materials from non-renewable resources, by recycling waste, making a least or almost no usage of pesticides and insecticides, avoidance of resources causing pollution and following crop rotation.

‘Bihar ideal for 2nd green revolution’

PATNA: Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday said Bihar, with abundant water resources, fertile land and hard working farmers, is the ideal place for the success of second green revolution.

Chandigarh’s first organic market has grown and spread

What began three years ago as a dream for chemical-free natural food has now gained pace and support. Chandigarh’s first organic market has grown and spread, with the model now an inspiration for other such initiatives, small in scale, but big on intent and effectiveness. It all began in 2015, with informal discussions to market the produce and products of organic farmers by developing a support network and by creating an interface between farmers and consumers.

There were many challenges along the way, recalls Raman Mann, a farmer and activist, and Dr Upendra Nath Roy, professor and head, Department of Rural Development, NITTTR, who along with a handful of farmers, began this initiative. The premise is simple — time to give back to the soil what it has fed us and pave the way for change, one that is sustainable for us and our earth. The shift from conventional farming method to a biotic mechanism involves re-structuring of soil profile, giving time for the nutrients to permeate nutrients. The process requires continuous supervision. The investment is whopping, and the returns small. But with the focus on the health of the consumer and the soil, organic farmers are willing to put commerce and strategic business planning on the backseat for the sake of ‘service before self’.

Using organic waste for paddy germination

Generally accustomed to spending their time in a leisurely fashion, the aboriginal people living in natural surroundings of erstwhile united Adilabad district are not known for scheduling events ‘tightly’ in terms of time. In some aspects however, the creative ethnic people seem to ‘break’ this rule that too without ‘straying’ away from nature, as is their wont.

The Raj Gonds of Kothaguda (G) in Utnoor mandal, a small village located by the side of the Utnoor-Jannaram road, follow an ‘organic’ practice in paddy farming which saves them precious time which can even be applicable to all paddy farmers in the area. Instead of the traditional way of raising nursery by planting paddy seeds in a compact piece of wet land, the Adivasis in this habitation get the seeds to germinate within the leaves of teak and the medicinal vavili (Vitex trifolia) tree, a method evidently most suited under dry conditions.

Women turn entrepreneurs to transform lives in Maha villages

Pune, Jul 15 (PTI) Chingutai Jadhav, in her mid-40s, has taken it upon herself to raise the health and nutritional standards of women in her small village in the drought-prone Osmanabad district of Maharashtra.

She wants to counsel people and persuade them to build toilets at their homes for better hygiene.

But Jadhav is not alone in her endeavour. She is among 20 such women entrepreneurs, who are working at the grass-root level help in transforming the lives of others while overcoming their own personal problems.

Centre discusses Subhash Palekar farming pattern for national use

NAGPUR: The Central government seems to be seriously considering the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF), promoted by Padma Shri Subhash Palekar, as one of the tools to meet its target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022

Palekar told TOI that the Niti Aayog along with the scientists of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agriculture Universities (SAUs), the Union minister tate for agriculture Gajendra Shekhawat and Himachal Pradesh Acharya Dev Wrat held a meeting with him on ZBNF on July 9.

IIM sold on organic Dalma label

Jamshedpur: The agro-entrepreneurship model of Dalma has attracted the innovation wing of IIM-Calcutta.

Two members from the reputable B-school’s Innovation Park (or IIMCIP, a company formed under the aegis of IIM-C to promote innovation in research and business) conducted a recce at M’ma Farm sprawling over 100 acres at the wildlife sanctuary on July 7-8.

Entrepreneur Santosh Sharma, the founder and patron of M’ma Farm, said the department of science and technology under the Union government had allocated funds to IIMCIP to identify innovative projects with high social impact.

White Revolution 2.0

Triptur, A small hamlet about 150 km from India’s Silicon Valley Bangalore, greets people with its green coconut plantations. Life is calm and serene in the village that is home to Karnataka’s largest copra market. Triptur is now hogging headlines for another stream of business. Around 160 organic dairy farms under the brand Akshayakalpa have been operating in this region for the past eight years. Everyday, more than 15,000 litres of milk is collected using milking machines, preserved in chillers that are maintained at 4 degree Celsius, transported to Bangalore and distributed directly to the consumer within eight hours, farm fresh.

Akshayakalpa is one of the many new generation ‘farm to home’ dairy companies that have mushroomed in Indian metros and Tier-II towns. Mostly owned and operated by young ‘professional milkmen’ who have quit jobs in multinational IT companies, investment banks, management companies et al. to take up the business, these enterprises are creating a churn in India’s organic milk industry in particular and the milk sector in general

Pesticide poisoning? Two Yavatmal farmers hospitalised

Yavatmal, July 8 In a case of suspected pesticide poisoning, probably the first in this Kharip season in east Maharashtra, two farmers were admitted to a hospital with symptoms of vomitting and loose motions in Yavatmal district.

Prashant Kewade (42) and Sandeep Meshram (24) were admitted in the Yavatmal-based Government Medical College (GMC) on July 1, a GMC official said today.

While Kewade, a resident of Fulai village in the district, was discharged on July 7, Meshram, who hails from Pengare village, still remains in the hospital.

“Both of them were admitted in the hospital on July 1 with symptoms of severe loose motions and vomitting,” Head of Medicine Department, GMC, Dr Baba Elke said.

He said Kewade had sprayed a pesticide named ‘Hitweed’ for 12 hours on his crop with his hand pump before he developed the symptoms.

“Meshram had also sprayed the poisonous ‘Hitweed’ for two days in row using his hand pump. He also developed severe loose motions and vomiting,” Dr Elke said, adding that the condition of Meshram is stable.

High-level committee blows the lid off illegal cotton seed business

New Delhi: A high-level expert panel set up by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has found that nearly 15% area under cotton was planted with illegally produced and unapproved herbicide tolerant (HT) seeds in the 2017 kharif crop season.

Not only is this creating an unregulated market for genetically modified (GM) seeds, it is potentially harmful to the environment because it entails use of herbicides which are otherwise restricted.

At the same time, given that these seeds are not approved by the regulator there is every chance the seeds, which are expensive, could lead to crop failure, increasing the downside risks to farmers—cotton farming has witnessed the highest number of suicides.

NITI Aayog wants states to adopt zero-budget natural farming

NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar on Monday made a case for promoting zero-budget natural farming (ZBNF) in states, saying it would help double farmers’ income by 2022.

Aayog member Ramesh Chand, who is an expert in agriculture, said that such methods could be scaled up nationally only after they have been scientifically proven to be correct and there is proper manual for these. Under ZBNF, neither fertiliser nor pesticide is used and only 10 per cent of water is to be utilised for irrigation as compared to traditional farming techniques.

Central move draws flak

Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, an organisation promoting organic farming and fair trade practices, has flayed the Centre’s decision to constitute a single agency under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to certify organic produce.

The alliance said the decision would take away the rights of farmers who had been doing the certification under the Participatory Guarantee System Organic Council (PGSOC).

Leaders of the alliance said such a single agency would alienate small-scale farmers from their field, and that it was necessary to continue the traditional mode of certification by a not-for-profit organisation.

Organic farming tips

Patna: The Bihar State Seed and Organic Certification Agency (BSSOCA) has set up a facility to educate tillers in organic farming at a government agriculture farm at Fatuha, around 20km east of Patna.

The state government has been promoting organic farming in a big way in its third agricultural roadmap, unveiled in November last year and which would be in operation till 2021-2022.

Experience country life, up close!

Breathe in fresh air and hear the birds chirp as you enjoy the view of lush green fields glittering in the sun and merging into the distant horizon at these beautiful farm retreats. Immensely popular with travellers for offering a glimpse of Punjab’s verdant countryside and a peek into the tranquil village life, these farmstays should definitely be on your travel bucket list.

Organic cultivation awareness meet held for Andhra tribal farmers

VISAKHAPATNAM: ICAR-National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources (NBAIR), Bengaluru, organised a tribal farmers’ meet at Pedalabudu village in Araku Valley mandal. Around 130 farmers attended the meeting.

The event was organised as part of NBAIR silver jubilee celebrations in collaboration with Acharya N G Ranga gricultural University (ANGRAU) at Andhara Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s adopted village Pedalabudu on Friday to create awareness about organic cultivation and biological control of crop pests.

Switching to organic food? Here are some tips to keep in mind

The best way to tell if your food is organic, is to cook it, suggests R Selvam, a Chennai-based farmer. A mother knows best, he says, and it’s about time you and I do, too.

A new set of regulations by the FSSAI, set to come into effect this month, has just been put on hold after protests by farmers in the national capital. The regulation mandated that all organic produce be labelled so, either by the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP), or the Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS-India). The FSSAI defines ‘organic agriculture’ as “A system of farm design and management to create an eco system of agriculture production without the use of synthetic external inputs such as chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides and synthetic hormones or genetically modified organisms.”

After farmer protests, FSSAI agrees to revisit organic food regulations

Country’s top food regulator— Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) — is considering watering down its regulations on organic food that kicked in from July 1 this year, after farmers’ protests.

Several organic farmer groups protested against the new regulations— especially asking for organic certification, and met Pawan Agarwal, FSSAI chief executive officer (CEO) in Delhi.

The regulator, which had held extensive consultations with various stakeholders for drafting regulations, didn’t seem to have factored in details such as lack of adequate certification agents, technical glitches while handling websites etc., necessary for successful implementation.


Indian newspaper makes false claims about EU GMO studies and Séralini study

EU-funded rat feeding studies with GMOs have recently been exploited by lobbyists to push GMOs. The lobbyists are trying to spin the results (some of which are not even published) to claim that GMOs are safe to eat and to try to discredit the study led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found adverse effects in rats from feeding a GM maize and the Roundup herbicide it is engineered to tolerate.

In India, a media outlet called The Print is trying a similar trick. Its reporter Sandhya Ramesh claims that the “EU investigation of the paper by Gilles-Éric Séralini comes as much-needed validation for scientists and farmers in India who have been pushing for GM crops”.