Illegal sale of “HT Bt cotton” seeds doubles in a year
What is the News?
The illegal cultivation of (Herbicide Tolerant) HT Bt cotton has seen a significant increase in recent years. Similarly, the sale of HT Bt Cotton seeds has more than doubled from 30 lakh in 2020 to 75 lakh in 2021.
- Due to this, the seed industries have asked the Ministry of Agriculture to stop such illegal sale of (Herbicide Tolerant) HT Bt Cotton as it may have severe environmental and economic consequences.
About Bt Cotton:
- Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Government of India for commercial cultivation.
- Bt cotton has been genetically modified to produce an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a common pest.
How is Bt Cotton produced?
- Bt cotton was created by genetically altering the cotton genome to express a microbial protein from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
- In short, the transgene inserted into the plant’s genome produces toxin crystals that the plant would not normally produce which, when ingested by a certain population of organisms, dissolves the gut lining leading to the organism’s death.
About HT Bt Cotton Variant:
- This is another variant of Bt cotton. This variant adds another layer of modification, making the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. However, this variant has not been approved by regulators.
Concerns regarding illegal cultivation of HT Bt Cotton: There have been various concerns raised against the illegal cultivation of Herbicide Tolerant Bt Cotton. These concerns include:
- Firstly, the HT Bt cotton variant has serious environmental and economic consequences. This is because there are fears that glyphosate has a carcinogenic effect. Further, the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance is creating a variety of superweeds.
- Secondly, the illegal sale will eliminate small cotton seed companies and also threaten the entire legal cotton seed market in India.
- Thirdly, there is no accountability of the quality of cottonseed as it is being sold illegally.
- Lastly, the industry is losing legitimate seed sales and the government is also losing revenue in terms of tax collection.
Government of India’s Response on illegal cultivation of HT Bt Cotton:
- According to a report by the Department of Biotechnology, around 15% of the cotton area was sown with unapproved HTBt cotton. Especially in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat.
- However, the Government of India has said that it has made the policy to ban this variant. But it is the State governments to enforce the ban and take action.
Source: The Hindu
Read Also :-What is DMH-11 or GM Mustard?
India starts exporting GI-certified “Jalgaon banana” to Dubai
What is the News?
In a major boost to India’s exports of Geographical Indications(GI) certified agricultural produce, a consignment of fibre and mineral-rich ‘Jalgaon Banana’ has been shipped to Dubai.
About Jalgaon Banana:
- Jalgaon is known as the ‘banana hub’ of Maharashtra. It accounts for about 50% of the State’s banana plantation.
- In 2016, the Jalgaon Banana got the Geographical Indication(GI) Tag certification.
- The quality of Banana from the Jalgaon is different because of the proximity to the Tapi river.
- The minerals and fibres in the Jalgaon Banana lend it a unique quality, which makes the Jalgaon soil unique for banana cultivation.
Banana Cultivation in India:
- India is the world’s leading producer of bananas, with a share of around 25% in total output.
- States: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh contribute more than 70% of the country’s banana production.
- Export of Banana: Despite being a leading producer of banana, India’s share is just 0.1% in the export market.
- India’s banana exports grew both in terms of volume as well as value from 1.34 lakh metric tonne in 2018-19 to 1.95 lakh metric tonne in 2019-20
- Moreover, India’s banana export has been rising sharply recently because of the adoption of farm practices in line with global standards.
Read Also :-Growth scope for Indian Textile Industry
GI certified “Jardalu mangoes” from Bihar exported to the UK
What is the News?
The first commercial consignment of Geographical Indications(GI) certified Jardalu mangoes from Bhagalpur, Bihar was exported to the United Kingdom.
About Jardalu Mangoes:
- Jardalu Mangoes is grown in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar. It received the Geographical Indications(GI) certification in 2018.
- The mango is famous for its exclusive aroma, sweetness and other nutritional properties.
- It is rich in fibre and enzymes that are highly beneficial to the abdominal muscles and digestive system.
- Moreover, Jardalu mango is also considered a safe fruit for even those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or have a poor digestive system.
|Read more: First consignment of GI certified “Shahi Litchi” exported to the U.K|
About Mangoes in India:
- Mangoes in India are referred to as ‘king of fruits. They are mentioned in ancient scriptures as Kalpavriksha (wish-granting tree).
- States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka have a major share in the total production of the mango.
- GI certified mangoes in News:
- Khirsapati & Lakshmanbhog (West Bengal),
- Jardalu (Bihar),
- Banganapalli and Suvarnarekha mango varieties (Andhra Pradesh).
First consignment of GI certified “Shahi Litchi” exported to the U.K
What is the News?
In a major boost to the export of Geographical Indication(GI) certified products, the first consignment of Shahi Litchi from Bihar was exported to the United Kingdom.
About Shahi Litchi:
- Firstly, Shahi Litchi is a variety of litchi that is grown in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. It has high pulp and is juicier compared to the litchi grown in other parts of the country.
- Secondly, Favourable Conditions: Humid condition and alluvial soil having a fairly good amount of calcium content are favourable for this type of Litchi variety. This is present in Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga and nearby areas.
- Thirdly, the translucent, flavoured aril or edible flesh of the litchi is popular as a table fruit in India. While in China and Japan it is preferred in dried or canned form.
- Fourthly, GI Tag: Shahi litchi was the fourth agricultural product to get the Geographical Indication(GI) certification from Bihar in 2018. This is after Jardalu mango, Katarni rice and Maghai paan.
- Fifthly, Second-Largest Producer: India is the second-largest producer of litchi in the world after China
- Sixthly, States: Bihar is the leading state for litchi production in the country.
- Lastly, Concern: Shahi Litchi is most commonly blamed for the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome(AES) outbreak in Bihar.
Source: The Economic Times
India begins export of GI certified “Gholvad Sapota”
What is the News?
There has been an export of a consignment of Dahanu Gholvad sapota (naseberry) to the United Kingdom from Maharashtra’s Palghar district. This will provide a major boost to future shipments of Geographical Indication(GI) certified products from India.
About Gholvad Sapota:
- Firstly, the Geographical Indication(GI) certification of Gholvad Sapota is held by Maharashtra Rajya Chikoo Utpadak Sangh.
- Secondly, the fruit is popular for its sweet and unique taste. The unique taste is believed to be derived from the calcium-rich soil of the Gholvad village in Palghar district.
- Firstly, Sapota is a popular tropical winter fruit relished for its sweet flavour. It also has indispensable medicinal properties and therapeutic benefits.
- Secondly, the fruit comprises soft, easily digestible pulp made up of natural sugars that are in line with mango, banana and jackfruit.
- Lastly, in India, the fruit is grown in Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka is the largest grower followed by Maharashtra.
Source: Economic Times
“Beema Bamboo”: A clone of “Bambusa balcooa” can mitigate climate change
What is the News?
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University(TNAU) has designed an ‘oxygen park’ within its premises at Coimbatore with Beema Bamboo.
About Beema Bamboo:
- Beema or Bheema Bamboo is a superior clone selected from Bambusa balcooa. It is a higher biomass yielding bamboo species.
- A clone is an animal or plant that has been produced artificially. For example, It may be produced in a laboratory, from the cells of another animal or plant. A clone is exactly the same as the original animal or plant.
- Developed by: It has been developed by N Bharathi of Growmore Biotech Ltd, the agri-technology company based at Hosur, Tamil Nadu.
- The method used: Beema Bamboo has been developed by the conventional breeding method. It is not a product of genetically modified organisms.
Key Features of Beema Bamboo:
- Firstly, the Fastest Growing: Beema Bamboo is considered to be one of the fastest-growing plants. It grows one-and-a-half feet per day under tropical conditions.
- Secondly, Mitigate CO2 Emissions: Beema Bamboo is said to be the best ‘carbon sink’ to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. Hence, it can be an excellent choice for making the earth greener and mitigating climate change.
- Thirdly, Permanent Green Cover: Beema Bamboo is sterile. This means it does not produce any seed and does not die for several hundred years. Also, it keeps growing without death. As a result, it is able to establish a permanent green cover.
- Fourthly, Does not Require Replanting for Decades: It is produced through tissue culture. So, the culms (hollow stem of a grass or cereal plant, especially that bearing the flower) grow almost solid and adapt to different soil and climatic conditions.
- Hence, after every harvest cycle, it re-grows and does not require replanting for decades.
- Fifthly, Diverse Applications of Beema Bamboo: The Beema bamboo’s calorific value is equal to that of coal. Hence, cement industries can buy this bamboo species for their boilers. Further, Bamboo fibre can also be used by the textile industry for making fabric and garments.
About Bambusa balcooa bamboo:
- Bambusa balcooa is also known as Female Bamboo is a tropical clumping bamboo. It is native to Northeastern India. It is also spread in the regions of Indo-China.
- This bamboo species is often used as a food source in scaffolding, for paper pulp or wood chips.
- The length and strength of Bambusa balcooa make it a useful material for the construction industry.
- Furthermore, it is a drought-resistant species with low rainfall requirements. It can reach yields upwards of 100 metric tons per hectare.
Source: Down To Earth
“Large Area Certification Scheme”
What is the News?
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare has conferred a land area in the Andaman and Nicobar with organic certification. This is the first large contiguous territory conferred with the organic certification under the ‘Large Area Certification’ (LAC) scheme.
This is a scheme of the PGS-India (Participatory Guarantee System) certification program.
Note: PGS is a process of certifying organic products. It ensures that their production takes place in accordance with laid-down quality standards for organics.
About Large Area Certification Scheme:
- The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare under its flagship scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) has launched the Large Area Certification Scheme.
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana(PKVY) was launched in 2015 with the aim to support and promote organic farming. This in turn results in the improvement of soil health.
- Purpose: The purpose is to provide a unique and quick organic certification to harness the potential land areas for organic products.
Process for Large Area Certification:
- Firstly, under the LAC, each village in the area is considered as one cluster/group. Documentations are simple and maintained village-wise.
- Secondly, all farmers with their farmland and livestock need to adhere to the standard requirements. After verification, they will get certified as a group. Once issued they don’t need to go under conversion period.
- Thirdly, certification is renewed on annual basis through annual verification. Annual verification is a process of peer appraisals as per the process of PGS-India.
Benefits of Large Area Certification:
- As per the established norm of organic production systems, the areas having chemical input usage history will undergo a transition period of a minimum of 2-3 years to qualify as organic.
- On the other hand, the LAC requirements are simple. The area can be certified as organic almost immediately. Further, the LAC is a Quick certification process that is cost-effective. Apart from that, the farmers do not have to wait for 2-3 years for marketing PGS organic certified products.
- Firstly, Organic Farming avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones). Instead, it relies upon crop rotations, animal manures, off-farm organic waste and a biological system of nutrient mobilization.
- Secondly, India now has more than 30 lakh ha area registered under organic certification. Also, more and more farmers are joining the movement slowly.
- Thirdly, as per the international survey report (2021) India ranks at 5th place in terms of area. Further, India is at the top in terms of the total number of organic producers(the base year 2019).
“MACS 1407” – A new high-yielding, pest-resistant Soybean Variety
What is the News?
Scientists from MACS- Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) Pune in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR) have developed a variety of Soybean called MACS 1407. The MACS-ARI is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology.
About MACS 1407:
- MACS 1407 is a high-yielding and pest-resistant variety of soybean.
- Cultivation: It is suitable for cultivation in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and North-Eastern states.
- MACS 1407 requires an average of 43 days for 50 % flowering. Further, it takes 104 days to mature from the date of sowing.
- It has white coloured flowers, yellow seeds and black hilum (a scar on a seed marking the point of attachment to its seed vessel). Its seeds have 19.81 % oil content, 41 % protein content and show good germinability (the ability of a seed to germinate).
- High Yielding: It gives 39 quantal per hectare making it a high yielding variety
- Pest Resistant: It is resistant to major insect pests like girdle beetle, leaf miner, leaf roller, stem fly, aphids, whitefly and defoliators.
- It has certain characters suitable for mechanical harvesting. Such as,
- It has a thick stem that makes it stronger to harvest using machines.
- This variety has higher pod insertion (7 cm) from the ground
- It is resistant to pod shattering.
Significance of this development:
- Firstly, in 2019, India produced around 90 million tons of soybean. This is widely cultivated as oilseeds and a cheap source of protein for animal feed and many packaged meals.
- Secondly, India also has a target to be among the world’s major producers of soybean.
- Hence, MACS 1407 having high yielding, disease-resistant characteristics can help India to achieve this target.
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.