Agri News Service
New Delhi, 16 September 2015
Launch of Indian Council of Food and Agriculture on 18 Sep
With the increasing globalization, there are newer challenges demanding proactive response for the Indian agriculture and agri-food trade to compete globally. While major industry chambers have larger economic and business development agenda, agriculture is not their priority. Industry plays crucial role in Indian agriculture, but the sector is beyond the industry to include the stakeholders such as farmers, academic, research, policy, development, extension system. They need their issues and agenda to be effectively articulated at the district, state, national and international levels. While there are sector specific bodies in food and agriculture, both for input side and for output side, but cutting across the compartmentalized approach, there is none. While the target group remains the same, i.e., farmer at the supply side and the consumer at the end.
With the new Government at the centre, there is increased interest among the major countries about engaging with India and exploring opportunities for trade and cooperation. There is need for a dedicated body to facilitate such engagement while promoting India's interests. We also need institutional mechanism at the district levels, wherein various stakeholders could meet and deliberate upon issues and agenda. ICFA proposes to provide that mechanism, and become a mass-based organisation with large scale membership through state and district chapters, while maintaining the class character for working at the national and international level.
The first meeting to deliberate upon creating such body took place in 2002 at the residence of the then power minister, Mr. Suresh Prabhu (Railway Minister in Modi Government). Later on many deliberations took place over the years. Finally, the name Indian Council of Food and Agriculture was registered in March 2015, with the operationalisation meeting conducted in July 2015. Details are enclosed below for your kind perusal. ICFA launch function is organised as part of the Agriculture Leadership Summit on 18th Sept. 2015, at hotel Taj Palace, New Delhi. Kindly find the details of the Summit, and make it convenient to join at 9.30 am. ICFA will be launched after the presentation of the Leadership Awards starting at 7.15 pm. The honour will be done by Rajnath Singh, Home Minister of India, in the august presence of Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav, Governor of Haryana & Punjab, KS Solanki, Pioneer of India's Green Revolution, MS Swaminathan, and a galaxy of other persons, including ministers, top government officials, industry CEOs, diplomats etc. among others.
The Financial Express
Pune, 15 September 2015
Bumper cotton production of 400 lakh bales likely as rains revive in key areas
The revival of monsoon augurs well for the cotton crop in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country. Industry experts maintain that the country is heading for a bumper cotton crop at around 400 lakh bales with nearly 120 lakh hectares coming under cotton cultivation. Dr KR Kranthi, director, Central Institute of Cotton Research ( CICR), says except for some spots such as Telangana and Mahbubnagar,the crop is so good across the country. "The rains have returned and according to the IMD will continue till the first week of October which is very good. Except for parts of north interior Karnataka and Telangana, the rains have been good in Central Maharashtra as well. In fact, Vidarbha is heading for a very good crop something that does not happen every year. So far, the rainfall pattern has been good in this region. Normally around 16 lakh hectares in the region comes under the crop, yielding an output of 30-32 lakh bales. This time it could be in the region of 37-38 lakh bales," he explained. Ironically, some 32 farmer suicides have been reported in Marathwada region in the first week of September alone. Responding to this, Dr Kranthi says a good crop can stall an agrarian crisis for farmers since the market prices are not so good. "Higher yields can force stress on the market. China has not importing and therefore the exports are down. Even if the overall crop is good, for some farmers even a two- to-three day delay in planting crops could lead to stunted growth and this is paradoxical leading to such deaths," he explained.
Cotton prices are currently low at Rs 4,000 per quintal and in July the stocks were around 183 lakh bales. Even if the domestic consumption is around 250 lakh bales there is still a surplus, he said. Until September 3, sowing operations were completed on some 114.5 lakh hectares and planting is expected on some 5 lakh hectares by the end of September, taking the total 119-120 lakh hectares, he pointed out. Among the 84-odd cotton growing nations, Indian productivity is at 32nd place. This has been the case for the last 10 years, Kranthi pointed out, adding that yet India is the world's highest cotton producer. This year, after China stopped imports, there has been a glut of cotton in the Indian market with a carryforward stock of some 138-148 lakh bales. Cotton Corporation of India is selling its stock of 25 lakh bales and expects to cut inventory to 5 lakh bales before September-end, the close of cotton year 2014-15, even as it gears up for new season.
Coonoor, 15 September 2015
Coonoor tea sales drop on higher price
As much as 22 per cent, worth Rs 2.61 crore, of the 15.60 lakh kg on offer remained unsold at Sale No: 37 of Coonoor Tea Trade Association auctions when average prices rose to Rs 67.28 a kg from previous week's Rs 66.51. The Broken Pekoe grade of Homedale Estate, auctioned by Global Tea Brokers, topped the leaf auction and CTC market, when TRP Tea and Commodities bought it for Rs 205 a kg. The Red Dust of Homedale Estate topped the dust auction fetching Rs 202 while the Pekoe Dust of Homedale Estate came next at Rs 200. Darmona Estate got Rs 198. In all, 33 marks got Rs 125 and more per kg. Kairbetta topped orthodox market fetching Rs 246, followed by Kodanad at Rs 242, Havukal Rs 241 and Chamraj Rs 227. In all, 42 marks got Rs 125 and more per kg. On the export front, Pakistan bought selectively in a wide range of Rs 42-110. Quotations held by brokers indicated bids ranging Rs 40-43 a kg for plain leaf grades and Rs 100-125 for brighter liquoring sorts. They ranged Rs 40-48 for plain dusts and Rs 110-170 for brighter liquoring dusts.
Chennai, 15 September 2015
EID Parry introduces Amrit sugar brand
Murugappa Group company EID Parry India, on Monday, announced that it would introduce a new branded sugar Amrit, described as 100 per cent natural cane sugar, as part of its strategy to boost retail sugar sales with value-added products in the fledgling branded sugar market. Amrit, the company's fourth branded sugar, is manufactured through a process which is completely different from how normal white sugar is made, according to the company. The product will be sold in a half kilogram pack, priced at Rs.30. Though the sugar has a brown tinge, it is different from most of the other brown sugars available in the market as it doesn't use molasses. "Parrys Amrit conforms to all food safety standards and is fully hygienic," V.Ramesh, Managing Director of the company said. "It has 10 per cent lower calories than a normal white sugar, retains natural nutrients of potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous and iron." Amrit, which will be formally released on September 18, will initially be sold in Chennai and Bangalore and become available across India by January.
Hyderabad, 15 September 2015
India to assist Ghana in tomato production
Soon, expertise from India will help boost the ailing tomato-growing sector in Ghana. A combination of high-yielding varieties and latest farm techniques will be tested on the West African nation's soil. The Ghanaian government has allotted three plots of five acres each in three different regions to the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), which is leading the Indian effort.
With the Centre launching a major Africa policy and set to host the Indo-Africa Summit in October in New Delhi, with 54 African nations expected to take part, this is one of the many projects on the anvil. The Ministry of External Affairs had firmed up the bilateral, $2-million project. "A team from NRDC will be going to Ghana on September 29 to kick-start the project in collaboration with the CSIR-Ghana, which runs a string of national institutes on the lines of the Indian CSIR (Council for Scientific &Industrial Research)," said H Purushotham, Chairman & Managing Director of NRDC. Ghana, traditionally a gold and cocoa economy with a population of 27 million with a good Indian presence, has a diversified economy with a growing agriculture sector and industry. It has, however, been struggling with its tomato farming over the past two decades.
The International Food Policy Research Institute in a study pointed out Ghana has not been able to sustain processing plants, and is also finding the going tough in terms of improving livelihoods of those households involved in tomato production. Despite government interventions that include establishment of tomato-processing factories, tomatoes of the right quality and quantity for commercial agro processing are not being grown. Many farmers still prefer to plant local varieties, typically with high water content. Low average yield, lack of access to markets and competition from imports make life difficult for the tomato farmers.
New Delhi, 15 September 2015
Inflation continues to drop, but onions, pulses still bite
Helped by slipping oil prices, inflation continued to fall in August but the drop masked higher rates for common household items like onions and pulses. The wholesale price index (WPI) fell for the tenth straight month to 4.95% compared with a 4.05% decline in July. Retail prices, too, moderated to 3.66% from 3.69%, official data released on Monday showed, raising hopes of an interest rate cut. The Reserve Bank of India holds its next monetary policy review on September 29. "Both categories of inflation indicate that inflation continues to moderate and seems to be under control," finance minister Arun Jaitley said. Cheaper fuel may h ave brought down inflation but several items in the food basket, restaurant bills, education and housing remain pricey, keeping the cost of living high in most regions of the country. Onions and pulses continue to weigh on household budgets. Wholesale onion prices grew 65.29% in August compared with last year, while pulses were costlier by 36.40% during the month. Onions are retailing at around ` 70 a kg, while a kilo of Arhar dal is selling for more than ` 130. "Prepared meals, snacks and sweets" — a component in the consumer price index (CPI) that indicates the cost of eating out — rose 7.31% in August, probably mirroring costlier rentals as well as higher service tax rates. "The RBI needs to reduce interest rates sharply to drive a recovery in demand. CII expects the RBI to reduce interest rates by 50 basis points (0.50 percentage points) in the forthcoming policy with statements supporting further easing in the near future," said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Industry leaders had expressed similar sentiments during a meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 8 to discuss the global economic scenario. Bankers and economists were also in attendance as the Prime Minister urged industrialists to take risks and invest in India.
Guwahati, 16 September 2015
JACAMFU demands Agricultural Policy in State
The Joint Action Committee of All Meghalaya Farmers Union (JACAMFU) on Thursday requested the State Government to implement an Agricultural Policy in the state during the upcoming Assembly session. The Joint Action Committee of All Meghalaya Farmers Union includes the Hills Farmers Union (HFU), Ri-War Sepngi Farmer Union (RWSFU), Seng Synroplang Ri-Bhoi District (SSRBD) and Warsan Lyngdoh Farmer Association WLFA). Chairman of the newly formed Joint Action Committee of JACAMFU Commander Shangpliang, while speaking to media person said that the main reason the committee was formed is to make the voices of the farmers in the state heard since so far many of the problems and issues faced by the farmers in the state has not yet been addressed. "We have also submitted a memorandum to the Office of the Chief Minister and we hope that he considers our request to implement an Agricultural Policy in the state for the betterment of all farmers in Meghalaya," Shangpliang said. He said that they are optimistic that the MLAs across Meghalaya will take the issues of the farmers seriously by raising their voices to implement an Agricultural Policy in the state during the Assembly session schedule on September 16. "We want the government to help the farmers in term of channeling marketing for their products since as of right now the farmers in the state are being crushed by the middlemen," he said. Meanwhile, T Suting, vice chairman of JACAMFU who is also the President of the SSRBD said, "We have also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner East Khasi Hills District since the middle men in the market are deducting 8 to 9 kgs from 60 kgs of tomatoes, 4-5 kgs from 70 kgs of potatoes and 10 kgs from one quintal of ginger which has resulted in great losses for farmers,"
The Financial Express
New Delhi, 15 September 2015
MMTC to float tender for processing of imported pulses
State-owned trading firm MMTC would soon float tender for processing of 10,000 tonne of unmilled pulses — tur and urad — being imported for augmenting domestic supplies. This follows states expressing their inability to process the unmilled pulses being imported to curb the sharp spike in prices.
"As states have indicated their inability to process the imported unmilled pulses, MMTC was advised to float a tender for milling the imported pulses," an official statement on Monday said following the meeting of Inter Ministerial Committee on Prices and Availability of essential food item.Around 5,000 tonne of tur or arhar dal is being imported at Rs 77 per kg and the Centre will make it available to states at Rs 67 a kg, giving a subsidy of Rs 10 per kg.
Srinagar, 15 September 2015
Mufti asks Banks to lend more to agriculture, SMEs
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called for improving lending by premier banks to boost the State's low Credit Deposit Ratio (CDR) and bring it at par with RBI's stipulated level of 60 per cent. "The premier banking institutions of the country need to lend more to enterprises, especially in the agriculture, craft and small and medium enterprises (SME), keeping in view the low CDR of 46 per cent in the State," Sayeed said speaking at a luncheon meeting with the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan here. Heads of leading premier banks of the country including HDFC, ICICI, PNB and the Canara Bank attended the special State Level Bankers' Committee (SLBC), convened by the RBI Governor at SKICC in the summer capital, pursuant to his commitment made to the Chief Minister earlier this year. Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu, Advisor to the Chief Minister Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Chief Secretary B R Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister B B Vyas and Commissioner Secretary, Finance, Navin Chaudhary, also attended the meeting, an official spokesman said. The Chief Minister also raised with RBI the issue of recapitalisation plan of the three cooperative banks at Jammu, Anantnag and Baramulla, which are facing threat of getting de-licensed by the RBI. The State has proposed approaching NABARD to advance the State share of Rs 139 crore as loan, paving way for capital infusion of the three cooperative banks from the RBI. Asking the banks to increase their credit flow in housing and education sectors, the Chief Minister particularly stressed upon advancing loans for restructuring of orchards for high-density farming as well as laying of agriculture infrastructure like setting up of CA stores, van chains and packing and grading lines.
The Economic Times
Kochi, 15 September 2015
Munnar may Stir Up Discontent in Other Tea Estates
Workers of Kanan Devan Hill Plantations (KDHP) in Munnar ended their strike after nine days on Sunday, with the company agreeing to their demand for higher bonus, but the repercussions of it are now being felt in other tea estates in Kerala. The woman workers who led the strike at the largest tea plantation company in south India had kept trade union leaders away, accusing them of being hand-in-glove with the management. The workers of other tea companies are also threatening to go on agitation without the assistance of trade unions. Harrisons Malayalam (HML), another major tea company having around 6,000 hectares and more than 7,000 workers, has now become the prime target."We have already started receiving strike threats from our tea estates spread over Wayanad and Idukki regions. They (workers) feel that they can get what they demand without the help of any trade union," said Chief Executive C Vinayaraghavan. HML, which suffered a Rs 35 crore loss in 2014-15, had declared the statutory bonus of 8.33%. "Rubber prices are at a rock bottom level and tea prices have also fallen. In the last few years, the government hasn't allowed us to cut and sell rubber trees in our estates, which used Rs 11 crore ` to fetch us Rs 12 crore," said Vinayaraghavan. HML is the largest rubber plantation company. AVT is another big tea company with estates in Kerala. Though the KDHP management had announced a 10% bonus, after intense negotiations with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, it was forced to pay an 8.33% statutory bonus and 11.67% as ex-gratia. "The total outgo from 20% bonus and ex-gratia payment should be around Rs 10 crore. Due to the agitation, the company Rs 30 crore," said suffered a loss of ` a KDHP spokesman.
The Times of India
Mumbai, 14 September 2015
Onion prices drop as new, cheaper produce hits mkt
With new crop arriving at the APMC from Karnataka, imports from Egypt and consumers cutting down on consumption due to high cost, prices of onions at retail markets have dipped to Rs 55Rs 65 per kg from Rs 60 to Rs 75 per kg last week. Consumers can now consider themselves spoilt for choice, having three varieties to choose from--old, new and imported. While old onions are retailing at Rs 55 to Rs 65, fresh onions from the south and the Egyptian imports are being sold at Rs 50 to Rs 55. Everyday , eight truckloads of Egyptian onions and 10 truckloads of Karnataka onions are arriving at the wholesale market and being sold at a price lesser than that of their Nashik counterparts. According to an APMC trader, a few truckloads of Egyptian onions have been untouched for two days as consumption crashed significantly. Seventy truck loads seem to be sufficient for Mumbai market at this juncture as opposed to the the normal requirement of 100-125 truckloads daily. Fresh onions from Karnataka have a slightly higher moisture content as compared to dry onions from the old winter stock of the Nashik crop. In sharp contrast, Egyptian onions are bigger in size and reddish in colour, but domestic users prefer the indigenous bulb. The wholesale market recorded the price of Karnataka and Egyptian onions at Rs 40 to Rs 48 per kg whereas old onions are being sold at Rs 50 to 53 per kg.
New Delhi, 15 September 2015
Paddy price dips by 60%, Karnal farmers worried
Farmers who planted paddy variety-1509 across the state are a worried lot as the price has taken a sharp hit due to a fall in prices of the crop this year by 50 to 60 per cent, compared to last year. The variety is being sold at Rs1,200-1,300 per quintal, while it was sold for Rs 2,800-3,400 per quintal last year. Similarly, farmers, who have cultivated other paddy varieties including hybrid-3325, 834, 222, are also in deep trouble as they too are not getting a proper price of their produce. Farmers and commission agents have demanded that the government fix a price of these varieties and to start government auctioning at the earliest. They alleged that with a game plan several rice millers have been purchasing these varieties at a less price resulting in huge losses to farmers. Rajinder Kumar, a commission agent at the Karnal grain market, said it was a strategy of the rice sellers and the government should keep a check on such buying.
Chandigarh, 15 September 2015
Rice millers threaten to boycott milling
Accusing state-owned procurement agencies of harassing them by demanding "unjustified dues," Punjab-based rice millers on Monday threatened to boycott milling for the upcoming paddy procurement season. Agitating millers under the banner of Punjab Rice Millers' Association sought a meeting with state Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon to resolve their issues. "State-owned procurement agencies have started harassing us unnecessarily by demanding unjustified payments from rice millers," Punjab Rice Millers Association President Tarsem Saini said on Monday. He added that millers are being asked to pay charges for deviating from the monthly schedule of rice delivery. "As per usual practice, we were never asked to pay any charges for any monthly delay in rice delivery once the rice is delivered at the end of milling season. But now they are asking to pay charges on the same," he said, adding VAT was also being asked to pay.
Chandigarh, 15 September 2015
Rs10 crore for relief to Malwa farmers
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced to release Rs10 crore for compensation to farmers who have uprooted their cotton crop damaged due to whitefly over an area of 11,780 acres in six districts of Malwa belt. A decision to this effect was taken by Badal during a high-level meeting with a delegation of the Bharti Kissan Union (Sidhupur) led by its president Pishora Singh at Punjab Bhawan. Badal was told by revenue officials that of 11780 acres affected area,5,000 acres was in Muktsar district, 3,727 Fazilka, 2,090 Bathinda, 539 Mansa, 398 Faridkot and 26 Barnala. Referring to the damage caused to the standing cotton crop due to whitefly, the Chief Minister asked the Revenue Department to complete girdawari in the affected districts by September 17.
The Chief Minister directed the Revenue Department to cover other crops such as guar and vegetables that too were affected by whitefly for compensation on the similar pattern. Subsequently, after disposing of the objections raised by farmers in this regard, the revenue officials would release the compensation amount to the affected farmers as per the assessment report by the end of this month.
The Chief Minister also told the Revenue Department officials to issue directions to make the payment of compensation directly to the cultivators in case land was given to the cultivators by the owners on lease/contract.
New Delhi, 15 September 2015
Shipments of fresh pulses to arrive next week
The Centre will receive 5,000 tonnes of tur (arhar) and urad imports by October 20 to help ease prices of these key pulses by improving the supply situation of the key protein source in the country. The MMTC has also been advised to float a tender for milling the imported pulses after States indicated their inability to process the unmilled ones. Two shipments of 2,500 tonnes will arrive at Chennai and JNPT ports in different tranches beginning September 23, the Consumer Affairs Ministry informed on Monday. The MMTC had floated the tender for tur procurement on September 11 and the bid has an opening date of September 21. Tur is mainly imported from Myanmar and African nations such as Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. "The entire consignment of 5,000 tonnes of tur would be received at the two ports by October 20. To further improve the availability, import of additional 5,000 tonnes has also been approved," the statement added. The shipments of urad from Myanmar will reach both ports by the same date. Typically, India produces about 18-19 million tonnes (mt) of pulses each year and imports about 3-4 mt to meet domestic demand. Average retail price of tur was Rs 132/kg in New Delhi on Monday, up 48 per cent from six months ago (Rs 89/kg) and 61 per cent from a year ago (Rs 82/kg). Similarly, urad prices are at Rs 112/kg, up nearly 37 per cent from a year ago. With regard to onion imports, around 1,000 tonnes is expected at JNPT by the first week of October and another 1,000 tonnes over the following two weeks of the same month.
New Delhi, 15 September 2015
Tea workers end 9-day agitation amicably
Bowing to the clout of women estate workers, Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Ltd (KDHP) conceded to the demands of the strikers at its Munnar tea estates.
The week-long agitation has turned out to be a historic one, with the hill station witnessing a resurgence of the women workforce fighting for their rights by keeping at bay trade union leaders and political parties. umbering more than 3,000, the workers resorted to a 'sit-in agitation' before the KDHP sales outlet, disrupting movement of vehicles on the Kochi-Dhanushkodi highway in Munnar. Thanks to the intervention of the Kerala government, it has agreed to pay the bonus at 20 per cent, a major demand of the workers, which was earlier rejected by the KDHP management. This involves 8.33 per cent bonus and 11.67 per cent ex gratia. A decision in this regard was reached on Sunday night following marathon talks convened at the behest of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. With the decision to enhance the bonus, the women workers have called off their nine-day strike. On the demand for wage increase, the Chief Minister later told reporters the issue will be discussed at the Plantation Labour Committee meeting scheduled for September 26.
The Financial Express
New Delhi, 15 September
Urea imports surge 43% to 30.62 lakh tone
India's urea imports have increased 43 per cent to 3.06 million tonnes in the first five months of the current financial year. Urea imports during the same period of the previous fiscal stood at 2.13 million tonnes, according to official data. The government imports urea through state trading enterprises -- STC, MMTC and IPL -- for direct agricultural use to bridge the gap between assessed demand and the local production. India also imports urea from Oman India Fertiliser Company (Omifco) under a long-term urea offtake agreement between the government and the company. India's annual urea demand is about 30 million tonnes while the domestic production has stayed stagnant at 22 million tonnes. The rest is met through imports.Urea is a controlled commodity in India as it is imported by the government itself. The soil nutrient's maximum retail price is fixed at Rs 5,360 per tonne, and the difference between the cost of production and the retail price is paid as subsidy to the manufacturers.
New Delhi, 15 September 2015
Whitefly devours cotton crop on PAU campus, humbles experts
Cotton crop grown on research fields on the campus of Punjab Agricultural University has come under the attack of whitefly. The development has come as an embarrassment for the PAU Vice-Chancellor who had blamed farmers for damage to their crops. During a visit to the PAU campus, it was observed that despite proper care and spray of recommended insecticides, the crop got damaged by the whitefly. Various departments had sown the cotton crop on the campus for research. The number of insects under each leaf is more than 10 in most of the fields and the crop has turned black. The cotton fields prepared for exhibition during the upcoming Kisan Mela are also affected by whitefly. Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, had blamed the growers for mismanagement while sowing the cotton crop. While addressing a gathering at Kisan Mela in Jalandhar on September 12, Dr Dhillon had said the farmers did not take recommendations of PAU into consideration while sowing the crop that resulted in loss. Contrary to vice-chancellor's views, Dr Balwinder Singh, Director, Research, PAU, said hot, humid and dry weather had led to whitefly attack on cotton crop."The temperature in the third week of July was recorded 32 degree Celsius to 35 degree Celsius in southern Punjab. The farmers delayed the spray of insecticides due to the fear of rain. As far as our fields are concerned, we did not spray on some of the research fields to study the effect on crop that has not been sprayed. The attack of whitefly is rampant in the region. How could PAU campus remain unaffected?" said Dr Balwinder Singh.