Agriculture Current Affairs: May- September 2023
National Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF), May 2023
- NMNF has been formulated by upscaling the Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati (BPKP) to promote natural farming across the country.
- It aims to cover a 7.5 lakh hectare area by developing 15,000 clusters. Each cluster comprises 50-hectare land.
- The farmers interested to implement natural farming on their land will be registered as cluster members, each cluster shall comprise 50 farmers or more with 50-hectare land.
- A cluster can be from one village or may spread across 2-3 nearby villages under the same gram panchayat.
- NMNF shall provide financial assistance of ₹15,000/hectare/year for three years to the farmers for the creation of on-farm input production infrastructure.
- The incentives will be provided to farmers only when do Natural farming. If a farmer defaults or does not continue with natural farming, subsequent instalments shall not be disbursed.
Millets Experience Centre (MEC), May 2023
- The GOI, with collaboration from National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), has launched Millets Experience Centre (MEC) in May 2023. This initiative comes in light of the UNGA’s declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023).
- The MEC initiative is a step in the direction of India’s goal to become a “Global Hub” for millet. It will not only promote the dietary benefits of the millet but also popularize millet as a nutritional powerhouse fit for cooking a variety of dishes like millet dosa and millet pasta.
- The establishment of MEC will bring visibility to India’s robust millet-based start-up community and will help in the recognition of the immense potential of millets as a versatile and healthy grain.
- Visitors to the MEC can purchase a variety of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products from local millet start-ups.
- In Union Budget 2023-24, Millet has been referred as ‘Shree Anna’
Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries (AHDF) KCC Campaign
- While celebrating “Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahostav” the Union Ministry for Fisheries, Animal husbandry and Dairying has launched the Nationwide Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries (AHDF) KCC Campaign from 1st May 2023 to 31st March 2024.
- The campaign aims to expand the benefits of the Kisan Credit Card to all eligible animal husbandry, dairy, and fishery farmers in the country. Thus, small landless farmers engaged in animal husbandry and fisheries will get credit facilities.
- District Level KCC Camps will be organized every week by the KCC Coordination Committee coordinated by Lead District Manager (LDM) for on-the-spot scrutiny of applications sourced by the officials of the State Animal Husbandry and Fisheries department from the farmers.
- Lending institution will take part and will sanction the loan on priority basis within stipulated time.
Farm Export Data Report, May 2023
- Department of Commerce has recently released provisional data of agricultural export and import which shows new heights in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023.
- According to data, exports were at USD 53.15 billion and imports at USD 35.69 billion during 2022-23, surpassing their previous year’s records. However, the resultant agricultural trade surplus has marginally dipped from USD17.82 billion to USD 17.46 billion.
- India’s basket of imported farm produce is less dominated by agricultural products compared to its exports.
- Among these imports, the most significant is vegetable oils, whose imports have more than doubled in value terms between 2019-20 and 2022-23.
- Imports meet roughly 60% of India’s vegetable oil requirements while the dependence on pulses imports is hardly 10% now as the value of pulses imports has also come down halved from USD4.2 billion in 2016-17 to USD1.9 in 2022-23.
- Imports of spices, cashew, and cotton commodities where India has traditionally been a net exporter have shown a rising trend.
Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS), May 2023
- Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates has been confirmed by union cabinet for various nutrients i.e. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potash (K) and Sulphur (S) for Rabi Season 2022-23 and for Kharif Season, 2023 for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers.
- NBS scheme: The Subsidy on P&K fertilizers is governed by NBS Scheme under the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers since 2010.
- The inter-ministerial committee fixes the subsidy taking into account the benchmark international prices of finished fertilisers as well as raw materials.
- The subsidy is given to registered “P & K fertiliser manufacturer/importer” which provides these fertilisers at subsidised rates to the farmers.
- In June 2023, the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has recommended the Centre to bring urea under the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) regime to address the problem of imbalanced use of nutrients.
World’s largest Grain storage plan, June 2023
- The Union Cabinet approved forming and empowering an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to create the world’s largest grain storage plan in the cooperative sector. The committee will be formed under the chairmanship of the Minister of Cooperation, with ministers of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Food Processing Industries, and secretaries as members “to modify guidelines/ implementation methodologies of schemes of the respective ministries as and when the need arises”.
- Ministry of Cooperation soon will implement a pilot project in at least 10 selected districts that will provide valuable insights into various regional requirements of the project, learnings from which will be suitably incorporated for country-wide implementation of the Plan.
- The plan aims to address the lack of agricultural storage infrastructure in the country by facilitating the establishment of godowns at the level of primary agricultural credit societies (PACS).
- Direct Seeded Rice (DSR), also known as the ‘broadcasting seed technique,’ is a water-saving method of paddy sowing. This method has been adopting by farmers in leading rice-growing states as a solution to delayed rains and labour shortages.
- DSR doesn’t require nursery preparation and transplantation of paddy plant because, seeds are directly drilled into the fields.
- Drum seeders requires only two laborers to sow seeds on one acre which significantly reduces labour costs and escape from labour shortage. Apart from that, farmers save ample time which allows them to start the rabi season early and avoid untimely rains during the harvesting phase.
MSP for kharif crops, 2023-24 season
- GOI has approved the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for kharif crops for the 2023-24 season.
- The MSP has been hiked for all 14 kharif crops in the range of 5.3 to 10.35 %. It has been increased by Rs. 128 to Rs.805 per quintal.
- Green gram (moong) got the highest hike of 10.4% over 2022-23 followed by sesamum that saw an increase of 10.3%.
New Decision on PACS, June 2023
- In order to increase the income of Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) and increase the employment opportunities too in rural areas, the Government has taken five new decisions.
- Government has given the mantra of “Sahkar Se Samriddhi”. It aims to achieve overall prosperity in the country.
- It was proposed to strengthen Cooperatives by bringing transparency, modernization, and creating competitiveness. PACS currently not functioning as fertilizer retailers will be identified and will be encouraged to function as retailers on the basis of feasibility in a phased manner.
- PACS which are not currently functioning as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samridhi Kendras (PMKSK) will be brought under the ambit of PMKSK. PMKSK aims to fulfil various needs of the farmers and provide agri-inputs, soil testing facilities etc.
- Now PACS will also be connected with the marketing of organic Fertilizers.
- Under the Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme of Department of Fertilizers, fertilizer companies will act as an aggregator for small bio-organic producers to market the end product. Now, PACS will also be included as wholesalers/retailers in this supply and marketing chain of bio-organic fertilizers.
- PACS can also be employed as Drone entrepreneurs for spraying fertilizers and pesticides.
Nutri Garden project of Lakshadweep, June 2023
- This project comes under Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- Nutri garden project of Lakshadweep has turned out to be a big success.
- Nutri Garden project is a method of cultivating nutrient-rich crops in residential houses or near around to meet the requirements of the family around the year. This cost-effective cultivation method will promote good health and well-being of the family and community as well.
- In urban areas, Nutri kitchen gardening can be promoted as rooftop gardening, terrace gardening, vertical gardening and container gardening; while in rural areas, Nutri kitchen gardens can be promoted in the backyard of the houses.
- This method not only increases the availability of food and nutrient sources at home but also act as a source of supplementary income.
Bio-stimulants- Draft Guidelines Report
- The Ministry of Agriculture has published draft guidelines specifying efficacy data and trial reports required for registration of various categories of bio-stimulants under Schedule VI of the FCO Amendment order 2021.
- India has introduced separate regulations for bio-stimulants. The government issued the bio-stimulant regulation through the FCO Amendment Order in 2021, requiring bio-stimulants to be registered and demonstrate efficacy before being marketed.
- Manufacturers must submit data on chemistry, bio-efficacy trials, and toxicity for each product. The Central Bio-stimulant Committee (CBC) will evaluate toxicity data based on safe use history or bio-safety data accepted by government bodies.
- Shelf-life studies, fortification restrictions, and tolerance limits for naturally occurring elements are defined.
- Animal testing should be minimized, and scientifically validated in-vitro methods can be accepted.
- The data submitted for provisional registration may not need to be resubmitted for regular registration if the composition and claims remain unchanged.
- Bio-stimulants are substances that stimulate plant physiological processes and enhance growth, nutrient uptake, and stress tolerance, excluding pesticides and plant growth regulators regulated under the Insecticides Act, 1968.
Unparalleled Price Rise of Cumin in India, June 2023
- In June 2023 Jeera (Cumin) has shown unprecedented rise in price. Jeera is an aromatic seed that adds an extra flavour to Indian dishes.
- Cumin is a Rabi crop, highly weather-sensitive, grows well in both tropical and sub-tropical climates. Though, jeera can be grown in all type of soil but, well-drained sandy loam soils are best suited.
- Sowing time: October to November, Harvesting time: February-March. It is cultivated mainly in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
- It is believed that Jeera is origin of Mediterranean region.
- Jeera oil is also used in veterinary medicines and various other industries as it possesses antibacterial activity.
9- Nano Urea plants to be set up across the country by 2025, July 2023
- The Chemical and Fertilizer Minister said, ministry is aiming to manufacture 44 crore bottles of Nano Urea by the year 2025. Accordingly, nine plants will be set up across the country to achieve the target.
- Nano Urea is developed and patented by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO). IFFCO Nano Urea is the only nano fertilizer approved by the Government of India and included in the Fertilizer Control Order (FCO).
- Nano Urea is a nanotechnology-based agri-input that provides nitrogen to plants. It is bioavailable to plants because of its desirable particle size of about 20-50 nm and more surface area (10,000 times over 1 mm urea prill) and number of particles (55,000 nitrogen particles over 1 mm urea prill).
- Nano urea increases its availability to crops by more than 80% resulting in higher nutrient use efficiency. on the other hand, traditional urea absorption rate is only 30%.
- It is produced by an energy-efficient, environment-friendly production process with less carbon footprints, reduces loss of nutrients from field through leaching and gaseous emissions.
Gucchi Mushrooms & Distress Circumstances, July 2023
- For the second consecutive year undesirable weather patterns caused low yield of Gucchi mushroom. Mushroom hunters are continuously facing Distress weather circumstances that leads to low production.
- Guchhi mushroom belongs to family Morchellaceae of the Ascomycota (also known as sac fungi) phylum of fungi. These mushrooms known for their nutty, earthy flavour. They are pale yellow in colour with large pits and ridges on the surface of the cap, raised on a large white stem.
- These mushrooms have several health benefits, rich in potassium, copper, vitamins D & B. It is also rich in antioxidants that prevent health issues including heart diseases and diabetes by removing reactive oxygen species that harm the body.
“Farmers’ Distress Index” developed by CRIDA, July 8, 2023
- The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) has developed a unique early warning system known as the “farmers’ distress index”. The index aims to minimize agrarian distress, including crop loss, crop failure, and income shocks, which have led to an increase in farmer suicides.
- The index is currently being worked out in the form of a mobile or desktop application. The index’s methodology involves monitoring local newspapers, news platforms, and social media for reports of distress, followed by telephonic interviews with small and marginal farmers to assess early signs of distress using standardized questions.
- The index value ranges from 0-1. A value between 0-0.5 will indicate ‘low distress’, 0.5-0.7 will indicate ‘moderate’ distress and above 0.7 will indicate ‘severe’ distress. If the index is severe, it will identify which component, among the seven, is more severe and contributes maximum to farmers’ distress.
Delhi High Court upheld an order by the PPVFRA, revoking the intellectual property protection granted to PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd, July 11, 2023
- The Delhi High Court recently upheld an order by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), revoking the intellectual property protection granted to PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd with respect to a potato variety developed by it.
- It pertains to FL 2027 – a potato variety with high dry matter and low sugar content (better suited for making chips) – grown by some 14,000 farmers in India via contract farming and buy-back at pre-fixed rates.
- FL 2027 was developed in 1996 by a US breeder employed with a division of PepsiCo Inc – a manufacturer of potato chips sold under its Lay’s brand.
- PepsiCo India was granted a certificate of registration (by PPVFRA) for FL 2027 for 6-years in 2016.
- During this period nobody else could commercially produce, sell, market, distribute, import or export it without the breeder’s authorisation.
- PPVFRA is a Statutory body created by an act of Parliament works under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. It provides effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
“Urea Gold”, a new variety of Urea, July 29, 2023
- “Urea Gold”, a new variety of Urea, launched by Prime Minister during an event in Rajasthan’s Sikar.
- Urea Gold is coated with Sulphur. It is being introduced to address the Sulphur deficiency in soil and save input costs for the farmers. Urea Gold has proved to better against existing Neem-coated urea in terms of both economic viability and efficiency.
- Sulphur-coated urea facilitates a gradual release of nitrogen, thereby enhancing its availability and uptake by crops. The inclusion of humic acid in Urea Gold further extends its lifespan as a fertilizer.
- According to the report, 15 kg of Urea Gold provides comparable benefits to 20 kg of conventional urea, making it a more efficient and effective choice for farmers.
Variant of Hydroponics developed by IIHR, August 2023
- As per information by Union Ministry of Agriculture in the Lok Sabha, ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bengaluru (IIHR) has developed a variant of hydroponics.
- At present, this technology is mostly confined to urban farming, rooftop gardening and commercial farming.
- Cocoponics” or the Soilless production of vegetables, using cocopeat as a substrate, which has been found to be comparatively more successful in many vegetable crops.
20% Export duty on Parboiled Rice, August 2023
- The Central Government recently imposed 20% export duty on parboiled rice.
- Parboiled Rice is partially cooked within its husk before being processed for eating. It is also called as converted rice.
- It happens before rice is milled, that is, before the inedible outer husk is removed to yield brown rice but before brown rice is refined to make white rice.
- In some Asian and African countries, people have been parboiling rice since ancient times as it makes the husks easier to remove by hand.
- The parboiling rice is prepared by Soaking raw, unhusked rice, then steaming the rice until the starch converts into a gel followed by drying and husking.
- The process of Parboiling rice improves its texture, increases its shelf life, and provides health benefits. Parboiled rice is higher in fibre and protein than white rice.
6th Census of Minor Irrigation Schemes, September 1, 2023
- The Ministry of Jal Shakti has released the 6th census of minor irrigation schemes (with reference year 2017-18), shedding light on the state of irrigation practices across India. So far, five censuses were conducted in 1986-87, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2006-07, and 2013-14.
Highlights of the Report:
- Out of total 23.14 million minor irrigation (MI) schemes reported in the country, 21.93 million (94.8%) are groundwater (GW) schemes, and 1.21 million (5.2%) are Surface Water (SW) schemes.
- The 6th MI census recorded an increase of about 1.42 million MI schemes compared to the previous census.
- Nationally, GW schemes saw a 6.9% increase, while SW schemes increased by 1.2%.
- Dug-wells have the highest share in MI schemes followed by shallow tube-wells, medium tube-wells and deep tube-wells.
- Uttar Pradesh leads in MI schemes in India, followed by Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
- Maharashtra is the leading State in dug-wells, surface flow and surface lift schemes.
- Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab are the leading States in shallow tube-wells, medium tube-wells and deep tube-wells, respectively.
- Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand have the highest share in SW schemes.
- Approximately 96.6% of MI schemes are under private ownership whereas, 98.3% of GW schemes are owned by private entities, while 64.2% in SW schemes.
- For the first time, data on the gender of MI scheme owners was collected which shows 18.1% of individually owned schemes are owned by women.
Launch of Bio Fungicide: ENTAZIA, September 2, 2023
- FMC India announced the launch of ENTAZIA bio fungicide. It is formulated with Bacillus subtilis.
- This bio fungicide will provide farmers with a powerful and sustainable tool to protect their crops from fungi while maintaining environmental integrity.
- By activating the crop’s defence system against plant pathogens, it acts to prevent and control bacterial leaf blight while staying harmless to natural predators and parasites.
- The biological product promotes natural pest defence by utilising the naturally occurring Bacillus subtilis to establish a robust line of defence against bacterial leaf blight.
- It can be applied in an integrated pest management program with FMC’s bio-stimulants and synthetic fungicides for additional plant benefits.
Approval of AG-365S Kisan Drone, September 5, 2023
- Marut Drones has got type certification approvals from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for its AG-365S kisan drone for use in agriculture.
- Under the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules-2021, drones equipped with a Unique Identification Number (UIN) are permitted to operate in Indian airspace.
- By obtaining this certification first time in India, Marut Drones, Hyderabad is now able to offer its agricultural drone technology to farmers across the country.
- AG 365S is a multi-utility agricultural drone in the small category (less than 25kg). It has been developed for agricultural purposes to reduce crop loss, lower agrochemical usage, and better yield and profits to the farmers.
- The AG-365S drone has the highest endurance of 22 minutes. It is equipped with multiple payloads, advanced obstacle and terrain sensors, which enables safe and smooth operations even in rough and patchy terrains.
- AG-365S can be used for spraying pesticides, granular spreaders and also for running RPTO drone training academies.
UNDP & NABARD signed a MoU to co-create data-driven digital public good, September 16, 2023
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-create data-driven digital public good, which includes DiCRA.
- Data in Climate Resilient Agriculture (DiCRA) is a collaborative digital public good which provides open access to key geospatial datasets pertinent to climate resilient agriculture.
- It is curated by UNDP and partner organisations to inform public investments in agriculture and already provides intelligence on climate resilience for 50 million hectares of farmland across India.
- It is guided by the digital public good principles of open access, open software, open code, and open APIs.
- It uses cutting-edge data science and machine learning to identify farms that are resilient to climate change and those that are highly vulnerable.
Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics, September 19, 2023
- The Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg Portal) was officially launched recently. This platform is designed to revolutionize data management in India’s agriculture sector, addressing complex governance challenges.
- The portal aims to provide real-time, reliable, and standardized information, empowering stakeholders and facilitating more responsive and efficient agricultural policies.
- The UPAg Portal addresses key challenges in agriculture data and accordingly offers data standardization, advanced analytics, granular production estimates, commodity profile reports, and flexibility for users to prepare their own reports.
- The UPAg Portal is part of the Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture, focusing on harnessing data for growth, transparency, and agility in India’s agriculture sector.
- This initiative aims to enhance data-driven decision-making for policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders in the agriculture domain.
Inauguration of ‘Kisan Rin Portal’ September 20, 2023
- The finance minister and Agriculture Minister inaugurate the Kisan Rin Portal that helps farmers in availing subsidised loans under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC).
- It was developed in collaboration with multiple government departments.
- The portal offers a comprehensive view of farmer data, loan disbursement specifics, interest subvention claims, and scheme utilisation progress.
- It fosters seamless integration with banks for more focused and efficient agriculture credit facilities.
DA&FW launched Mobile application & Web portal for General Crop Estimation Survey, September 23, 2023
- Recently, the secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) launched the mobile application and the web portal for GCES (General Crop Estimation Survey).
- It has been developed by Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
- General Crop Estimation Survey Portal and mobile application have been designed to transform agricultural practices across the nation. It has been developed for leveraging technology to enhance the reach, scope, and outcome of government actions in the course of development.
- The automation of the GCES process will ensure on time reporting of crop statistics and accuracy of the data.
- The portal and the app provide a comprehensive repository of yield estimation including village wise GCES plan and plot details where the crop cutting experiments are conducted, post harvesting crop weight and driage weight of the crop.
- It is one of the key features of the mobile application, which enables the primary worker to draw the boundary of the experimental plot and upload photos of the plot as well as of the crops through it. This feature will ensure transparency and accuracy of the data as well.
MS Swaminathan Passed away, September 30, 2023
- Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (MS Swaminathan) called as ‘Father of the
- ’ passed away recently.
- MS Swaminathan was born on August 7, 1925 in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu.
- Swaminathan played a key role to rescue India from famine-like circumstances in the 1960s when Green Revolution, a period of rapid, scientific agricultural advancement occured. The revolution involved growing high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of mainly Rice & wheat crops, primarily in Punjab, India.
- The introduced new high yielding varieties (include IR8 rice and Kalyan Sona wheat) were disease-resistant and have increased tolerance to conditions like drought. Production was increased significantly.