Sunday, November 30, 2008

Half Century

Mera Khet completes a half century today with fifty posts and many more stories.

Cotton blues and Soil degradation

1. As reported on this blog earlier, farmers are finding it difficult to sell cotton at MSP fixed by the government. Farmers who are in desperate need of money are selling for whatever they are getting as it is impossible for the CCI to go in every nook and corner of the country. Government, however, is doing its part of bailout announcements. This time it is mulling a bailout package for the cotton industry.

2. Some news from Karnataka agriculture: Sugarcane growers are cribbing on getting lesser prices than fixed by government. One of the ministers says that 40 percent of Karnataka's soil is degraded. The noted soil scientist J. C. Katyal, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the Choudhary Charan Singh Agricultural University (Haryana), said the root of the problem has been traced to degradation of soil quality. If the soil lacks any nutrients, the agricultural produce grown on it will also suffer from nutrient deficiency and ditto with people who eat these produce, he said.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

Union agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar is all for stimulating private investment in the horticulture sector to boost the economic condition of farmers in the midst of a global financial gloom. He says "Government can play a supporting role. But government and farmers’ cooperatives cannot provide modern technology. For that, you need private players"

How can you expect private investments when you keep meddling with everything related to agriculture. People do private investmnets to earn profit.

You fix the prices to reduce inflation but your MSP finds it difficult to hold. You can do great justice to you post if you dont do anything!! I hope cricket keep you busy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


1. CCI will suffer a loss of about Rs2,065 crore if it has to buy one-third of the entire crop of 33 million bales this year. The government steeply hiked the MSP for cotton by 46% in September prior to the onset of the harvest season; domestic prices now rule higher than the international cotton prices that have slipped due to slowing consumption.

2. India will host the fourth world congress on `conservation agriculture’ in New Delhi from Feb 4 to 7. The congress would showcase innovations in agriculture for improved efficiency, equity and environment. The congress would review the progress in conserving soil, water and other resources in agriculture It will also facilitate partnerships between countries, organisations, institutions and agencies.

Monday, November 24, 2008

GM debate again, UDP technology

1. Controversies surrounding the GM crops have again come up, with Mahyco ready to commercialize GM brinjal seeds. Various NGOs and farmers are out on the ground to protest. Point to be noted from the article. "Nowhere in the world GM brinjals are permitted for agricultural cultivation or human consumption. We are no guinea pigs. So, we should not be treated like one”. Gujrat Agriculture minister has no clue.

The US-based International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agriculture Development (IFDC) is pitching to promote the technology developed by them dubbed as Urea deep placement (UDP) technology for increasing the fertilizer use efficiency. UDP increases yields by 25% while using 40% less urea.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food Security, Lending to Food Processing

1. This article in Taipei Times is puzzling - it points out that countries like Ukraine and Argentina have great potential for farming but are not reaping the benefits because of government meddling in exports and price-fixing. What beats me is that it blames that "Governments such as China, India and Vietnam fail to realize that restricting exports leads farmers to invest and produce less".

From BusineessLine: In a bid to bail out the food processing industry from the current financial crisis, the Government has allocated Rs 1,000 crore to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard). It will utilise the fund to refinance banks that lend to the food processing sector.

3. According to United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the current financial crisis will adversely affect agricultural sectors in many countries, including India and other developing countries. Lower international commodity prices have not yet translated into lower domestic food prices in most low-income countries, it added. The FAO report further noted that world agriculture was facing serious long-term issues and challenges that need to be urgently addressed. These include land and water constraints, low investments in rural infrastructure and agricultural research, expensive agricultural inputs relative to farm-gate prices and little adaptation to climate change.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some cheerful stuff in gloomy environment

One can hardly escape from bad news if he/she regularly browses on web or reads any of the business news paper. In the previous post, we discussed how farmers are largely unaware about the current financial crisis. But knowing the following things will surely cheer them up.

According to this article, which looks more like a well crafted advertisement for Monsanto, Bollgard technology has greatly helped farmers to increase the cotton yield. "Bollgard cotton provides in-built protection for cotton against destructive American Bollworm Heliothis Armigera (locally called American gundi) infestations, and contains an insecticidal protein from a naturally occurring soil micro organism, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)."

Heres another piece, which is again kind of an advertisement, although not as good as the previous one. A fair kicked off in Ranchi to to provide latest technical support to the farmers and also to apprise them about new technologies. It was emphasized that the agriculture department of the state has been providing the farmers with high yielding seeds instead of traditional seeds, which had enough potential for sustainable growth of agriculture.

Another agriculture fair was held in Bangalore where about 100000 farmers assembled for a glimpse of the new crop varieties, developed by the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS). The annual fair is held to showcase latest farm technologies developed by the varsity and create awareness in the farming community on modern methods of harvesting.

This article brings to our notice the boom in flower industry. “Commercial floriculture could be a viable and profitable option along with regular crops for farmers in our country. The area of cultivation required is less and the output in terms of number is more. Labour costs and water management costs are also less. A farmer can get a profit equivalent to what he gets on a one-acre farm of regular crops by growing flowers on a 1,000 square meter area. The initial investment required could be, around Rs 5 to 6 lakh but now the NHM provides half the amount as subsidy. The rest of the loan, taken from banks, can be easily covered within two years.”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yeh financial crisis kya hai?? has got this interesting article about how farmers are unaware about the financial crisis that has stuck the world. I had a similar though recently when I visisted my home-village. "For almost 70 per cent of India, that lives in villages like Sonarpur, the Sensex going 20k up or 10k down isn't the debate. The debate is where the minimum support price is going, Rs 50 up to 900/quintal is what the villagers have heard. So the big worry is not the money they will get, but the current availability of fertilizers."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Credit squeeze for Agriculture

The businessline story brings out an interesting point - Bank credit has been just Rs 95064 crore for the half year ending Sept,08. The target for the year is Rs 2,80,000 crore. So it is less than half the target till now. However our ever-optimistic stock-market-spokesperson cum finance minister is very optimistic - "We are well on the way to achieving the target (of Rs 280,000 crore). The banks have assured me that the target will be achieved”.

Respected Sir, there is a simple theory called incentive caused bias. If banks have to bear the brunt of your generous debt waiver, what would motivate them to lent money to farmers when it already so scare!!

Nokia Life Tools

Nokia has launched a service, dubbed "Life Tools" to provide the latest agricultural information, such as weather updates and grain prices; educational tools, such as English-language training and general knowledge; and appealing entertainment--namely horoscopes and downloadable ringtones.

Monthly subscription prices have been pegged at between Rs 30 and Rs 60 (62 cents to $1.23) for the agriculture and education modules. Entertainment services are paid for as downloads. Nokia hopes the platform will fill a big gap in 3G-starved markets like India where consumers are unlikely to have the flat-fee data bundles or fast download speeds that developed-market phone users have become used to.

Cotton Prices

Farmers are finding it hard to sell cotton at good prices. Although MSP prices are pretty decent this year, farmers are finding very few takers. Government is stepping up the procurement process to support the prices but unfortunately it if not working out. Some farmers are selling cheaper either to pay off the debt or because they dont have infrastructure to store. It is ironical that a higher yield of cotton is adding woes to the farmers instead of helping them.

One important thing to note is that when demand soars and prices are high, government alters it policies (like capping the price, increasing the imports etc) to keep check the prices. Most of the times it is successful in doing so but it fails miserable to keep up the prices in the times like this. So for a farmer, its always like loosing on any side of the coin.

After break of two weeks

Update to this blog will start again after the break of two weeks.