Farmer develops mango variety that bears fruits round the year
What is the News?
Shrikishan Suman, a farmer from Kota, Rajasthan has developed an innovative mango variety called Sadabahar.
- Sadabahar is a dwarf variety of mango that can be grown regularly for round the year.
- Dwarf is used to describe varieties or species of plants and animals which are much smaller than the usual size for their kind.
Key Features of Sadabahar:
- The fruit is resistant to most major diseases and common mango disorders.
- The fruit is sweeter in taste comparable to langra.(Langra is a variety of mango grown in Varanasi, Northern India, Bangladesh and Pakistan).
- The fruit is suitable for kitchen gardening, high-density plantation, and can be grown in pots for some years too.
- Besides, the flesh of the fruits is deep orange with a sweet taste and the pulp has very less fiber content which differentiates it from other varieties.
- The Sadabahar mango variety has been verified by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF),
- NIF has also facilitated the plantation of Sadabahar mango variety in the Mughal Garden at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
- This mango variety is also in the process of being registered under the ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR).
- NBPGR: It was established in 1976 as the nodal agency at a national level for the management of plant genetic resources (PGR) for food and agriculture and to carry out related research and human resource development.
- Further, Shrikishan Suman has also been conferred with the NIF’s 9th National Grassroots Innovation and Traditional Knowledge Award for developing this mango variety.
Sustainable Agriculture demands Optimum Water Management
The declining availability and accessibility of water necessitates strengthening the water management measures. In this regard, the focus should be drawn on Sustainable Agriculture.
- On March 22 (World Water Day), Prime Minister launched the ‘Catch the rain Campaign’ under Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
- The campaign focuses on robust rainwater conservation including the use of MGNREGA funds to conserve water.
- These types of campaigns are desired as water demand is going to rise in future – 843 billion cubic metres (BCM) by 2025 and 1180 BCM by 2050.
Current Situation of Water:
- National Estimates:
- NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index (2019) shows 75% of Indian households don’t have access to drinking water on their premises.
- The Central Water Commission’s reassessment of water availability using space inputs (2019) shows India utilises only 18% of its annual precipitation. This means 699 billion cubic metres (BCM) is utilised, out of the total 3880 BCM received.
- International Estimates:
- UN’s report on Sustainable Development Goal-6 (SDG-6) on “Clean water and sanitation for all by 2030” states that India achieved only 56.6 per cent of the target by 2019.
- The Water management quality Index has placed India at the 120th position amongst 122 countries.
- India identifies as a water-stressed country. As the per capita water availability declined from 5,178 cubic metre (m3)/year in 1951 to 1,544 m3 in 2011. It is expected that it will reach 1,140 cubic metre by 2050.
Why do we need to focus on the agriculture sector?
- Firstly, High Usage of water: The Agriculture Sector uses 78% of freshwater resources and the rest is used by industry and households.
- Secondly, Skewed Irrigation Distribution: Only about half of India’s gross cropped area (198 million hectares) is irrigated. Groundwater contributes about 64 per cent, canals 23 per cent, tanks 2 per cent and other sources 11 per cent to irrigation.
- Thirdly, Inefficient usage of water: Groundwater is the primary source of irrigation. Various subsidies and incentives are given to support it. However, it has led to over-exploitation of water especially in the north-west region.
- This helped the region to leverage maximum benefits of the green revolution at subsidized water and power tariffs.
- But today the region is amongst the three highest water risk hotspots of the world along with northeastern China and the southwestern USA (California).
- Fourthly, Two Crops use maximum water: As per a NABARD-ICRIER study on Water Productivity Mapping; rice and sugarcane alone consume almost 60 % of India’s irrigation water.
- Punjab performs well inland productivity of rice but takes the last spot in terms of irrigation water productivity. This shows inefficient usage.
- Similarly, irrigation water productivity of sugarcane in Karnataka and Maharashtra is only 1/3rd of Bihar and U.P.
- Land Productivity means output produced per unit of land.
- Irrigation water productivity means output produced per unit of irrigation water used.
Therefore, there is a need to realign the cropping patterns based on per unit of applied irrigation water productivity.
- Firstly, technologies like Drip irrigation, Direct Seeded Rice (DSR), drip with fertigation etc. can be adopted.
- Jain Irrigation has demonstrated the potential of water conservation by growing 1 kg paddy with 842 litres using drip irrigation. This is way less than the traditional flood irrigation method that uses 3065 litres.
- Similarly, drip with fertigation method for sugarcane has given a benefit-cost ratio of 2.64 in Karnataka.
- Netafim, an Israel based company, has shown the potential of a family drip irrigation system at Ramthal, Karnataka.
- Secondly, pricing policies for agricultural inputs like water and electricity should be sustainable.
- The “Paani Bachao Paise Kamao” initiative of the Punjab government along with the World Bank and J-PAL can be a good initiative in this regard.
- It encourages rational use of water amongst farmers by providing them monetary incentives for saving water in comparison to their traditional usage.
- Further, from highly subsidised policies, a paradigm change towards direct income support and greater agricultural investment is desired.
The focus should be on conserving, using and managing the water in such a way that the objective of per drop more crop is duly achieved.
Dragon fruit to be renamed as ‘kamalam’
Why in News?
Gujarat government has applied for a patent to change the nomenclature of dragon fruit to ‘Kamalam’.The word ‘Kamalam’ is a Sanskrit word and the shape of the dragon fruit resembles the lotus flower.
- Dragon Fruit: It is the fruit of a species of wild cactus indigenous to South and Central America, where it is called pitaya or pitahaya.
- Largest Producer: The world’s largest producer and exporter of dragon fruit is, Vietnam. The Vietnamese call it “thanh long” which translates to “dragon’s eyes”.
- Benefits of Dragon Fruit: Dragon fruit is considered to be one of the tropical superfoods due to its nutrient richness. It is rich in nutrients and low in calories. It is believed to help in the control of chronic illnesses, improves the health of the alimentary canal, and boosting the body’s immunity.
- Dragon Fruit in India:
- Being a cactus family it requires long days for flowering. Dragon fruit cultivation is well suited in the agro-climatic regions of Southern, Western, and North-Eastern India that are dry, and frost-free.
- It was brought to India in the 1990s and is grown in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
INSPIRE Faculty produced heat-tolerant wheat varieties resulting in improved grain yield
News: Researchers of the INSPIRE Faculty under the Department of Science and Technology(DST) are studying to develop a variety of wheat that does not lose its productivity under heat stress.
- Wheat and Heat Stress: Wheat is affected severely by Heat stress as it causes a dramatic reduction in yield as well as quality of wheat which is the staple for more than one-third of the world’s population.
What are the researchers studying and developing?
- The researchers are studying the role of DNA methylation (a biological process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule) patterns as it plays a significant role in plant development as well as in heat stress tolerance during different grain filling stages.This study is carried out through a process called epigenomic mapping.
- It will explore the epigenetic route to modify gene expression in a manner that is stably transmitted but does not involve differences in the underlying DNA sequence so that the heritable genes do not buckle under heat stress and non-stress conditions during different grain filling stages.
After rice, India’s wheat exports register highest ever export in six years: US Department of Agriculture.
News: US Department of Agriculture(USDA) has released its forecast of Indian wheat exports for 2020-21(July-June). USDA has estimated India’s Wheat Exports for 2020-21 (July-June) to be around 1.8 million tonnes (mt), as against its earlier estimate of one mt. That would be the highest ever in the last six years.
India’s Wheat Exports:
Source: Indian Express
- Wheat: It is the second most important cereal crop. It is the main food crop, in the north and north-western part of the country.
- Climate: This rabi crop requires a cool growing season and bright sunshine at the time of ripening. It requires 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall evenly- distributed over the growing season.
- Wheat Growing Regions: There are two important wheat-growing zones in the country – the Ganga-Satluj plains in the northwest and the black soil region of the Deccan. The major wheat-producing states are Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and parts of Madhya Pradesh.
- Reason for India’s higher wheat exports: Due to surging international prices from Chinese stockpiling and ultra-low interest rate money increasingly finding its way into agri-commodity markets.
- Concerns: Indian wheat is still not competitive at the government’s minimum support price(MSP) of Rs 19,750 per tonne. The export price of wheat bought in Gujarat is around Rs 20,950 per tonne. That works out to $286 per tonne or $290-plus after adding exporter margins. The above price is higher than the $275-280 that major exporters such as Australia, France, the US, Russia and Canada quoted.
- Suggestions: This disadvantage can be overcome if wheat is sourced at below MSP from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra where not much government procurement happens.
- The new crop arriving in these markets would be available at Rs 17,000-18,000/tonne. This wheat can be exported by rail rakes to Bangladesh or shipped to the Middle East (UAE, Oman and Bahrain) and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia).
India’s Rice Exports:
- Rice: It is the staple food crop of a majority of the people in India. Our country is the second-largest producer of rice in the world after China.
- Climate: It is a Kharif crop that requires high temperature, (above 25°C) and high humidity with annual rainfall above 100 cm. In the areas of less rainfall, it grows with the help of irrigation.
- Rice Growing Regions: Rice is grown in the plains of north and north-eastern India, coastal areas and the deltaic regions. The development of a dense network of canal irrigation and tube wells have made it possible to grow rice in areas of less rainfall such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan.
- India’s Rice Exports: USDA has estimated that India’s rice imports have hit a record 14.4 mt in 2020 up from 9.79 mt and 11.791 mt of the preceding two years. The country’s closest competitors – Thailand and Vietnam – have seen their exports during this period.
Turmeric in India
Turmeric in India
Source: The Hindu
News: Sri Lankan police have seized 20,000 kg of turmeric smuggled by sea, reportedly from India amid a shortage persisting since Sri Lanka banned imports to support local farmers in the pandemic year.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): It is a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family. The plant’s underground stems or rhizomes have been used as a spice, dye, medicine, and religious maker since antiquity.
- Significance: The spice’s color comes mainly from curcumin, a bright yellow phenolic compound that has been in the news for its ostensible potential to fight cancer. As a result, the demand for turmeric with high curcumin content has risen.
- Climate: It requires temperatures between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F) and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.
- Largest Producer: India is the largest producer and exporter of turmeric in the world. Turmeric occupies about 6% of the total area under spices and condiments in India.
- Largest Producer State: Telangana was the leading producer of turmeric in India during 2018. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu were second and third in the ranking that year.
Boosting Farmer’s Income
Context- Policies designed for an India on the edge of starvation don’t fit the India of today.
What is the history of supply and demand of wheat crop in India?
The genesis of the current state of affairs stems from policies initiated over half a century ago-
- Starvation period– It dates from the 1960s, when India that did not grow enough to feed itself and had to rely upon imports under PL-480 as aid from the US.
- New PDS and government policy-Then, Indian policymakers shifted to setting a minimum support price.
- Wheat-paddy crop rotation was encouraged in Punjab and Haryana to make India self-sufficient in food grain production.
- The system guarantees farmers a set price for their output, while their inputs – water, power, fertilizer, seeds – are free or subsidized.
- Wheat is then stored in the warehouses of the state-controlled Food Corporation of India and distributed at a subsidized price to the population.
- Policy result was a resounding success for the production and procurement of rice and wheat, which was the focus of the PDS and government policy
- However, India produces too much grain, which is now rotting in government granaries.
- In today’s time, the subsidies for rice and wheat caused too few farmers to plant vegetables, which are subject to major price fluctuations.
How crop rotations can be beneficial for farmers and the challenges associated with that?
Rice wheat cycle- In Punjab and Haryana region
- Rice-wheat rotation by far the most value creating crop cycle.
- Better varieties of rice – superior basmati rice in the kharif season that have
lower yield, lower water and nutrient requirement but are exportable and highly priced, could possibly be better crop options in the region.
- In the Rabi season wherein the only superior alternatives to wheat in the rice-wheat rotation are vegetables and higher qualities of wheat.
- However, the chances of success in wheat are lower.
What are the issues in current procurement policy?
- High incurred cost by the FCI– Cost of procurement and distribution of food grain has increased manifold.
- The quality of grains has been ignored.
- There was no initiative for identifying high-quality wheat strains for increasing their production for local and foreign markets.
What is the way forward?
- Shift production from normal rice to basmati and other exportable varieties and to give a boost to wheat for substituting rice via sooji, rava and noodles.
- A boost for infrastructure to increase the production of vegetables in the wheat belt and its transport for the healthy growth of agriculture.
- The government needs to reduce the institutional costs and move towards a more remunerative cropping pattern.
- And must make transparent efforts to push exports consistently.
Monoculture farming- depleting natural resources
Context- In the ongoing farm debate in the country the green reality check seems to be missing.
What is agro ecology?
It is a concept where agriculture sector of a country expanded along with keeping environmental protection [agriculture with sustainable environmental practice].
What is monoculture farming and is Impact?
Monoculture is the agricultural practice of growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time.
- Modern agricultural practices emphasize maximizing crop yields, farm incomes and global competitiveness. The single-minded pursuit of such goals has remade land and farms into monocultures.
Monoculture reduces diversity and leads to a host of other problems-
- Contributed significantly to climate emissions.
- Threatened farmer livelihoods and the natural resource base they depend upon-
- Destroys soil nutrients– Single crop eliminates all soil nutrients and everything else is killed as pests or weeds.
- Pollutes groundwater supplies sue to extensive use of fertilizers.
- Adversely affects and alters the natural ecosystem.
- Destroys the overall soil’s degradation and erosion.
- Requires lots of water to irrigate- Monoculture results in the topsoil cover being harvested all at the same time, the topsoil loses elements that could help it retain moisture. Therefore, require vast amounts of water to irrigate the crops.
- Distorted food consumption patterns, replacing nutritious millets with polished rice and wheat and negatively affected our nutritional security.
In attempting to offer a new deal to farmers, the new farm laws do not address any of these fundamental concerns. Such changes often affect the resilience of production systems and their role in biodiversity.
How new farm laws and farmers demand promote monoculture farming?
Both government and farmers have continued to ignore the broader ecological and social contexts in which agriculture is embedded.
- Corporatization of agriculture through contract farming, higher stocking limits and private marketplaces will accelerate the growth of long supply chains of monoculture commodities.
- Guaranteed procurement in the past has incentivized monoculture farming.
What is the way forward?
Government should make policies that go beyond the productivity trope and populist posturing-
- Instead of a resource-based approach, the need is to develop a relationship-based approach towards the environment.
- Any sound economic and techno-scientific model must have agro ecology and equity at the core and, must indeed, be guided by them.
Government needs to promote less favoured crops like millets and pulses.