Friday, October 17, 2008

Government policies, PDS and B2B meeting

1. A call for change in Government policy in agriculture in Indian Express. There should be more emphasis on investments in marketing and processing infrastructure, on expanding and modernizing the trading centers and on increasing the rural connectivity.

2. According to this article, "to give entry to various giant grain corporations, the Indian government slowly and systematically weakened its Public Distribution System (PDS) by slowing down grain procurement, especially wheat". This is leading to food crisis, specially for the people below poverty line.

3. B2B meetings for Agriculture and Food processing in India - The Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC), in partnership with BCI - global leader of B2B meetings and professional events - will be setting up a first international trade show dedicated to agriculture machinery and food processing on March 4-6, 2009 and fully contribute to this process.

The show will combine a 3 day exhibition for Indian and international companies to showcase their products and capabilities and a matchmaking service to facilitate contacts. They will feature their technologies for agriculture and food processing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Contract farming, Private investments and low MSPs

1. RCF (Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers) is planning to get into contract farming and green house businesses by leveraging its customer network and land holding. The company plans to build a network of at least 1,000 farmers to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables. Recently similar announcement was made by Bayer CropScience.

2. Contract farming verses cooperative farming - what is the difference. My guess is that in former, some corporate guy takes over farm land from small farmers or bound them by the contract, while in the later one, farmers unite and make a society like Amul and sow and sell the produce together.

3. Farmers are unhappy with the low MSP fixed by government. The input costs have risen much faster that the final output. Some comparative numbers with 1966 are given. According to Mahendra Singh Tikait, farmers' leader, fair price for wheat should be rs 3000/quintal and for sugarcane it should be Rs 250 a quintal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

God's own crop, CCI to buy cotton and Agri-sector alliance

1. Millets are getting the charm back again after finding the way in Indian supermarkets and increasingly becoming part of urban diet. Decant herald carries an interesting article on Millets like jowar, bajra, ragi etc, which are also called "God's own crop"

2. Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has assured Punjab government that it would purchase maximum quantity of cotton from the mandis in the state so that the farmers could get remunerative price of their produce.

3. Indian commerce minister Kamal Nath calls for alliance among developing nations in Agriculture sector to fight against the subsidies provided by rich nations.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wireless sensors, Equitool for organics

1. A scientist of Indian origin, along with his team, is developing wireless transceivers and sensors that would collect and send data about soil moisture within a field. The sensors could help researchers understand precisely how water moves through a field, develop better models to predict crop growth and yield and understand the carbon and nitrogen cycles within soils, as well as help farmers manage their nutrient and water resources, which could maximize yields and profits, and minimize environmental impacts.

2. Equitool is a tool to help decision-makers assess whether an organic production and processing standard applicable in one region of the world is equivalent, ie not identical but equally valid, to another organic standard. It will help streamline acceptance of products that are traded internationally according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

$2 billion for secondary agriculture

A panel formed by the government in 2006 has proposed the creation of a $2 billion fund to boost so-called secondary agriculture. It covers things like the extraction of oil from rice bran, milk from soya bean and industrial chemicals and biofuel from sugar cane, extracting vitamins from food grains, medicines from herbs, fibre boards from rice straw and so on. Details on the story here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Agriculture growth, useless MSP and Australian wheat

1. The Hindu Businessline writes about slow growth in agriculture. Agricultural policies are to be blamed.

2. Farmers are not benefiting in spite of high MSP prices as open market prices fall much lower. Manipulative actions by traders also hit the profitability.

3. Indian mills can have custom grown wheat from Australia and enter into contract farming and long term agreements. South India flour mills, in particular, prefer Australian wheat not only for its quality but also due to logistical advantage.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Conservation agriculture, FDI in agriculture and Agri-entrpreneurs

1. Business standard covers this interesting story on new farming techniques to improve land productivity as well as to reverse the climate change. Suggestions include rice-wheat cropping sequence, zero tillage agriculture, raised bed planting, laser land-lavelling and drip irrigation.

2. It is surprising to hear the suggestion coming from a minister to get foreign investment in agriculture. The food processing minister says that it is the "next sunrise sector".

3. Interesting story covered by ET on Agri-entrepreneurs. It covers various ventures like Satnam Agri Products by Mandip Singh producing premium potato chips, Minchy brand on wines by Girish Minocha and Pawas Canning by Hemant Desai exporting mango pulp to Japan. It also covers Nisarg Nirman Agro Products growing and selling exotic fruits to five start hotels, Jalbindu Agri Tech by Rahul Gala growing and selling dates using high echnology and "Best Roses" by Kumar Patel.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

GM debate, Stuck farm insurance claims

1. Central chronicle says that greater measures are required to test GM crops for safety.

2. Farmers insurance claims are stuck because of non-availability of funds from state.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jai Reform, Jai Kisan

1. Indian Express has got this interesting column about the denial of renewal of license to Metro Cash and Carry. "Those who shout loudest that farmers need a good deal are frequently the same people who protest loudest about big retail chains"

2. Farmers have started moving towards cash-generating crops and vegetables.
Vegetable production has increased by 141 per cent in the past five years leading to an increase in local consumption and exports.

3. Press Digest - from Reuters