This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered all of the Land Reforms and Agriculture Current Affairs from Nov. 2021 to March 2022. In the 2nd part, we will cover the rest of the current affairs of the period July 2021 to 31st April 2022.
List of Contents
- Land Reforms
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National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS)
Launched by: Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development
Purpose: It is a common, generic, and configurable application developed for registration departments across the country.
The application is specifically designed for the use of sub registrars, citizens, and apex users from registration departments. It also facilitates states to create state-specific instances and configure the software as per requirements.
Significance: After NGDRS, a person had to go only once or twice to the office to complete the registration of the properties, whereas earlier he was expected to visit 8 to 9 times different offices to complete the registration process.
Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme(DILRMP)
The Digital India Land Record Modernization Programme (DILRMP), previously known as the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP) was launched in 2008.
Purpose: to digitize and modernize land records and develop a centralised land record management system.
The programme is the amalgamation of two projects namely Computerisation of Land Records(CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records(SRA & ULR).
Components of the programme:
- Computerisation of all existing land records including mutations (or transfers);
- Digitization of maps, and integration of textual and spatial data;
- Survey/ resurvey and updating of all survey and settlement records including the creation of original cadastral records (record of the area, ownership, and value of land) wherever necessary;
- Computerisation of registration and its integration with the land records maintenance system and
- Development of core geospatial information system (gis) and capacity building.
ULPIN (Unique Land Parcel Identification Number)
The Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN) scheme was launched in 10 States in 2021. It will roll out across the country by March 2022.
Key Features of the Scheme:
- Under the scheme, authorities issue a 14-digit identification number to every plot of land in the country.
- Also called the “the Aadhaar for land”, it is a unique number to identify every surveyed parcel of land. It will prevent land fraud, especially in rural India where proper land records are not available.
- The longitude and latitude of a land parcel will be the basis for its identification. It will depend on detailed surveys and geo-referenced cadastral maps.
- The land records database will gradually integrate with the records of revenue courts and banks on a voluntary basis.
Significance: The scheme might also be the next step in the Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP). It began in 2008.
Delhi Land Pooling Policy
News: The Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs has said that amendments will be made to the Delhi Development Act, 1957, to speed up the Land Pooling Policy.
About land pooling
In Land Pooling Policy, the government agencies consolidate parcels of land and design or develop it with infrastructures like roads, schools, hospitals, community centers and sports facilities on part of the land and then returns a portion to the original owners who can later sell it or execute housing projects with the help of private builders.
About Delhi Land Pooling Policy
Under Delhi Land Pooling (DLP) policy, 60% of the land will be used by the owners or developer entity for the purpose of developing residential and commercial facilities, while 40% of the land will be surrendered to service providing agencies, such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for infrastructural developments.
Benefits for Landowners: Although the land returned to the original owners will be smaller in size, they will have access to infrastructure and services developed by DDA.
Problems faced in the Policy: According to a senior DDA official, the agency was facing hurdles in convincing landowners to participate, as most of them were unsure of the outcome of the policy.
Amendments proposed to the Delhi Land Pooling Policy
1) The pooling of land for owners who are yet to express their willingness becomes mandatory once the participation rate reaches the minimum threshold of 70%.
2) The amendment will give the Central government power to declare pooling mandatory — even if the minimum threshold of 70% is not achieved.
National Land Monetization Corporation (NLMC)
News: The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of the National Land Monetization Corporation (NLMC). The setting up of NLMC is in pursuance of the Budget Announcement for 2021-22.
About National Land Monetization Corporation (NLMC)
NLMC will be a wholly-owned Government of India company with an initial authorized share capital of Rs 5000 crore.
Nodal Ministry: It will be set up under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of Public Enterprise, Ministry of Finance.
Composition: A chairman will be appointed to head the NLMC through a ‘merit-based selection process. The Board of Directors will comprise senior Central Government officers and eminent experts to enable professional operations and management of the company. The Board of NLMC can also hire, pay, and retain experienced professionals from the private sector.
Functions of NLMC
To undertake monetization of surplus land and building assets of Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) as well as other government agencies.
To own, hold, manage and monetize surplus land and building assets of CPSEs under closure and the surplus non-core land assets of Government-owned CPSEs under strategic disinvestment.
To advise other government entities to identify their non-core surplus assets and ‘generate maximum value’ by monetising them ‘in a professional and efficient manner’.
To act as a repository of best practices in land monetization, assist and provide technical advice to the Government in the implementation of asset monetization programs.
Significance of NLMC
Firstly, with the monetization of non-core assets, the Government would be able to generate substantial revenues by monetizing unused and under-used assets.
Secondly, it will speed up the closure process of CPSEs and smoothen the strategic disinvestment process of Government-owned CPSEs.
Global Wheat exports
News: The Russia-Ukraine conflict may give India an opportunity to ship more wheat to the global markets.
About global Wheat export and import
Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, accounting for more than 18% of international exports. In 2019, Russia and Ukraine together exported more than a quarter (25.4 %) of the world’s wheat.
The top five countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of wheat include Russia, the United States, Canada, France, and Ukraine.
Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat. Combined, Russia and Ukraine cover more than 70% of Egypt’s imported wheat demand.
Turkey is also a big spender on Russian and Ukrainian wheat, with 74% of its imports coming from those two countries in 2019.
About India and Wheat production
India is the second-largest producer of wheat, with a share of around 13.5% of the world’s total production. India produces around 107 MT of wheat annually, with a major chunk of it going towards domestic consumption.
India accounts for even less than 1% of world wheat export. However, its share has increased from 0.14% in 2016 to 0.54% in 2020. Presently, India’s central pool of wheat stands at 24.2 million tons, twice more than the buffer and strategic needs.
Increased food production
News: Food production in India is estimated to touch a record 316 million tonnes in 2021-22, 8% more than the five-year average.
Advantages of higher food production
The higher production of pulses and oilseeds is a relief since India is dependent on imports to meet domestic consumption. This is particularly true for oilseeds, where India is acutely dependent on imports to meet half of its domestic requirements.
Impacts of higher food production
High oil prices lead to higher fertilizer and input costs for farming, diversion of food crops to produce biofuels, and high shipping costs. Hence, it will likely impact food prices.
News: Chinese Scientists have developed a variety of rice known as “Seawater Rice”.
About Seawater Rice: It is new salt-tolerant rice that can be grown in salty soil near the sea. This rice was created by over-expressing a gene from selected wild rice that’s more resistant to saline and alkali.
Significance of Seawater Rice
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels around the world could rise as much as 59 centimeters by the end of the century if the planet warms by 2 degrees Celsius. Hence, the “Seawater Rice” could help countries to withstand soil saltiness and also ensure food security that’s been threatened by rising sea levels, increasing grain demand, and supply chain disruptions.
News: According to a study, converting annual crops to perennial bioenergy crops can induce a cooling effect on the areas where they are cultivated.
The study was undertaken to look at the biophysical climate effects of bioenergy crops to fully assess their role in climate mitigation.
About Bioenergy Crops
Bioenergy is the energy derived from recently living materials such as wood, crops, or animal waste.
Bioenergy crops are defined as any plant material used to produce bioenergy or biofuels. These crops have the capacity to produce large volumes of biomass, with high energy potential, and can be grown in marginal soils.
Some examples of bioenergy crops: Eucalyptus, poplar, willow, miscanthus, and switchgrass.
Significant findings of the study
Researchers found that after 50 years of large-scale bioenergy crop cultivation, global air temperature decreases by 0.03~0.08 °C.
Moreover, researchers also demonstrated the importance of the bioenergy crop type choice. For example, cultivating eucalyptus shows generally cooling effects that are more robust than switchgrass if used as the main bioenergy crop. It implies that eucalypt is superior to switchgrass in cooling the lands biophysically.
Further, the magnitude of changes in the biophysical effects also depends on the total Bioenergy crop area under cultivation.
Lavender Cultivation or Purple Revolution
News: The Union Minister of State has said that the government was planning to commence the ‘Purple Revolution’ in the Ramban district in Jammu and Kashmir.
About Purple Revolution
Purple or Lavender Revolution was launched by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology through the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Aroma Mission.
Aim: To increase lavender cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Objective: To empower domestic farmers and support India’s aromatic crop-based agro-economy by reducing imports of aromatic oils and increasing home-grown varieties.
Under the mission, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings, while those who had cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling.
News: The Aroma Mission was launched by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
About Aroma plants: Aromatic plants are a special kind of plant used for their aroma and flavor. Many of them are also used for medicinal purposes such as rosemary, lavender, lemongrass among others.
About Aroma Mission
Aim: To bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in the areas of agriculture, processing, and product development for fuelling the growth of the aroma industry and rural employment.
Nodal Agency: CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow.
Objectives of the Mission
- To promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils that are in great demand by the aroma industry.
- To enable Indian farmers and the aroma industry to become global leaders in the production and export of some other essential oils on the pattern of menthol mint.
- To provide substantial benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilization of wastelands, and protection of their crops from wild and grazing animals.
News: North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) under Saffron Bowl project has identified few locations in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for saffron cultivation.
About Saffron cultivation in India
Saffron production has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Pampore region, commonly known as the Saffron bowl of Kashmir, is the main contributor to saffron production. Other districts producing saffron are Budgam, Srinagar, and Kishtwar districts.
In 2020, the Kashmir saffron got Geographical Indication (GI) tag status.
About Kashmiri Saffron
- It is cultivated and harvested in the Karewa (highlands) of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the only saffron in the world growing at an altitude of 1,600 m to 1,800m above mean sea level.
- Characteristics: longer and thicker stigmas, natural deep-red color, high aroma, bitter flavor, chemical-free processing and high quantity of crocin (colouring strength), safranal (flavour), and picrocrocin (bitterness).
- Types: a) Lacha Saffron– Stigmas are separated from the flowers and dried without further processing, b) Mongra Saffron– stigmas are detached from the flower, dried in the sun and processed traditionally and c) Guchhi Saffron- same as Lachha except that the latter’s dried stigmas are packed loosely in air-tight containers while the former has stigmas joined together in a bundle tied with a cloth thread.
- Significance: It is known all over the world as a spice, and health rejuvenator and is also used in cosmetics as well as for medicinal purposes.
About Saffron Bowl project
Aim: To expand saffron cultivation to the Northeastern Region and explore the feasibility of growing saffron in the region with the same quality.
Launched by: North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR)
NECTAR has identified a few locations in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for saffron cultivation.
- In Arunachal Pradesh, there is a good growth of organic saffron with flowers.
- In Meghalaya, sample plantations were grown at Cherrapunji, Mawsmai, and Lalingtop sites.
About North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR)
NECTAR is an autonomous society set up under the Department of Science & Technology.
Headquarters: Shillong, Meghalaya
The Centre looks at harnessing and leveraging niche frontier technologies available with central scientific departments and institutions.
In order to assist the northeastern region, NECTAR ensures applications of appropriate technologies for development in the areas of biodiversity concerns, watershed management, telemedicine, horticulture, etc.
News: In a first of its kind, drones were used for the transportation of Lakadong turmeric from Meghalaya to other parts of the country with an aim to resolve first-mile connectivity issues of farmers from the hinterland.
About Lakadong Turmeric
Lakadong turmeric has been identified under the One District, One Product(ODOP) Initiative of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
It has been identified as a product with huge potential for growth and export from West Jaintia Hills, a district of Meghalaya.
This turmeric has the highest curcumin content of 7-9% (in comparison to 3% or less in other varieties).
Meghalaya has also applied for a Geographical Indication tag for Lakadong turmeric.
News: Recently, the Prime Minister urged all state governments to introduce natural farming. The Prime Minister observed, “We need to unlearn the wrong practices that have crept into our agriculture.”
Similarly, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has issued a notification to all ICAR institutes and vice-chancellors of agriculture universities to take initiatives for the promotion of natural farming in India.
About Natural farming
Natural farming is related to soil microbiology. It involves chemical-free farming and livestock-based farming methods.
It is a diversified farming system that integrates crops, trees, and livestock, allowing the optimum use of functional biodiversity.
It has many indigenous forms in India, the most popular one is practiced in Andhra Pradesh called Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).
Difference between Natural farming and other methods
Modern agriculture is based on the principle that the soil has to be replenished by chemical nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, depending on the intake by the crop. Using chemical inputs reduces the microbe population and hinders this natural process.
In organic farming, similarly, the soil is replenished by applying organic manure like cow dung. But since cow dung contains very little nitrogen, massive amounts have to be applied, which may be difficult for a farmer to arrange.
Natural farming works on the principle that there is no shortage of nutrients in soil, air, and water, and healthy soil biology can unlock these nutrients.
Note: Plants, by way of photosynthesis, use CO2 and water to convert solar energy to biochemical energy or food. About a third of the food manufactured by plants is required by the shoot system over the ground, while 30% is used by the roots. Almost 40%, however, is pushed into the soil as root exudates, which feed microbes. These microbes—bacteria and fungi—in a symbiotic relationship, make the nutrients available to plants.
How are the soil nutrients managed in Natural farming?
A cow dung-based bio-stimulant is prepared locally by fermenting dung with cow urine, jaggery and pulses flour. The requirement of dung is very low compared to organic farming, just about 400 kg for an acre of land.
The fermented solution when applied to fields increases the microbial count in the soil, which supplies the plants with essential nutrients (Jivamrit).
This farming method also uses a host of other interventions. Seeds are treated with cow dung-based stimulants. It protects young roots from fungus and other soil and seed-borne diseases (Beejamrit).
The fields are managed to have some green cover around the year to aid carbon capture by plants from the air and nurture the soil-carbon-sponge. This also keeps the microbes and other organisms like earthworms alive which helps the soil become porous and retain more water (Whapsa).
During the cultivation of main crops, crop residues are used as mulch (Acchadana or Mulching) to retain soil moisture and prevent the growth of weeds.
Growing multiple crops in the same patch of land also raises soil fertility.
News: The government of India has declared Soya Meal as an Essential Commodity till 30th June 2022 under the Essential Commodities Act 1955.
About Soya Meal
Soybean meal is the by-product of the extraction of soybean oil. It is the most important protein source used to feed farm animals. It is also used for human consumption in some countries.
It represents nearly two-thirds of the total world output of protein feedstuffs, including all other major oil meals and fish meals.
AIM, NITI Aayog in partnership with UNCDF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rabo Foundation launched a South-South innovation platform in July 2021. The platform aims to enable cross-border exchange of innovations, insights, and investments.
Through this platform, cross-border collaborations are enabled among emerging markets across India, Indonesia, Malawi, Malaysia, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.
The first initiative of the Platform is the Agritech Challenge (‘Programme’).
Purpose of the Agritech Challenge
The Challenge aims to help smallholder farmers across Asia and Africa to address their challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The challenge will support selected agritech and agri-fintech startups to expand to the international markets. They will get access to industry, investor & market linkages, along with mentorship from sector experts to help them build and test their solutions in their chosen international market.
Significance of the Agritech challenge for India
In India, more than 50% of the population is dependent on agriculture, and it contributes to about 15-18% of the GDP. To improve the agricultural sectoral landscape, NITI Aayog is taking several steps.
This challenge will help in those steps by helping develop a more self-reliant and responsive agriculture ecosystem that can address the issue of food security and also benefits smallholder farmers.
News: India has emerged as the largest exporter of gherkins in the world.
Pickling cucumber is globally referred as gherkins or cornichons.
Gherkins are exported under two categories — cucumbers and gherkins, which are prepared and preserved by vinegar or acetic acid and cucumbers and gherkins, which are provisionally preserved.
About Gherkin cultivation in India
Gherkin cultivation, processing and exports started in India in Karnataka and later extended to the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
Nearly 15% production of the world’s gherkin requirement is grown in India.
Gherkin industry plays a key role in the creation of rural employment.
Steps to promote Gherkin exports
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) undertook a series of initiatives in infrastructure development, product promotion in the global market, and adherence to food safety management system in processing units.
It also provided financial assistance for the development of infrastructure and enhancing the quality of processed gherkins, promotion of products in the international market, and implementation of food safety management systems in the processing units.
Inland Saline Water Aquaculture
News: The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has organized a webinar on “Promotion of Inland Saline Water Aquaculture”.
About Inland Saline Water Aquaculture
Inland saline aquaculture is the farming or culture of aquatic animals and plants using inland (i.e. non-coastal) sources of saline groundwater rather than the more common coastal aquaculture methods.
Benefits of Inland saline aquaculture
Firstly, it plays an important role in saline-affected soils with low productivity as it can be used to convert the wasteland into wealth land.
Secondly, it can be used to reduce the amount of salt in underground water tables leading to an improvement in the surrounding land usage for agriculture.
Initiatives to Promote Inland saline aquaculture
Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana has a component for the development of saline water aquaculture.
The component aims to promote aquaculture in saline/alkaline areas with the help of technology infusion, training and capacity building of farmers, provision of market linkages, availability of quality seed and feed and good aquaculture practices.
Potential of Inland Saline Aquaculture in India
Inland Saline Aquaculture has a huge potential in saline waters available in the northern States of Haryana, Panjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
Challenges in Inland Saline Aquaculture
- a) Infrastructure for sustainable development of saline aquaculture, b)Lack of laboratory & technology support, c) Lack of buyers on demand among others.