Saturday, February 28, 2009

ITC's eChaupal, Sour Grapes

1. A brief case study on ITC's eChaupal. Started in year 2000, it serves more that 50,000 villages through its 7000 kiosks. Each kiosk costs around 1.5 Lakhs and includes a VSAT connection, a PC and a printer. e-Choupal facilitates farmers with the latest weather reports and best farming practices. Additionally, e-Choupal offers various farm-critical services, such as soil and water-testing for the betterment of yields. The softwares have local language support and an easy user interface.

2. Economic cycle is showing its impact on the grape farmers of Maharashtra. The wine consumption has fallen down and with it the demand for grapes. Ironically, farmers shifted to growing wine fruit varietals based from table grapes on projected wine industry demand.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cargo facility in Jharkhand, Mega Food Park Scheme and GI tag

1. Jharkhand would soon get a cargo facility at Ranchi airport to despatch farm produce to the world market. Jharkhand produces several types of agriculture and horticulture products with the farmers in a state having 29.74 lakh hectare of farm land.

2. The food processing sector is expected to attract fresh investments of over Rs 5,000 crore in the next two-three years, according to an industry estimate. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries has received lot of (EoIs) after announcing the revised Mega Food Park Scheme (MFPS) in October 2008.

3. covers a story about how farmers are not yet benefiting from geographical indication (GI) for Kerala’s Palakkadan matta and the medicinal njavara.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Farm Income Commision, Politician speaks and Zameen Organic

1. M S Swaminathan, who needs no introduction on this blog, talks about his expectations from the regular budget. He suggests that all political parties commit to establishing a Farm Income Commission which can go into the totality of the income of farmers from crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, agro-forestry and agro-processing, so as to ensure a minimum take home income to farmers. He also emphasizes on the need for ensuring minimum support price not only for wheat and rice but for a wide range of millets, pulses, oil seeds and tuber crops. Further provision needs to be made for establishing a national grid of warehouses for grains and cold storage structures for perishable commodities. The prevailing mismatch between production and post-harvest technologies should be ended.

2. Sharad Pawar's column on commodityonline. Sounds like a pre-election campaign.

3. An interesting story on Zameen Organic, a
farmer-owned private limited organization aimed at closer collaboration between farmers. Zameen Organic is a pioneering marketing company for Fair Trade, Organic and Pesticide Free cotton in India. They have partnered with Yes Bank to ensure credit flow for their initiatives. The link of their website: Zameen Organic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Agri Stocks and Bio-Valley

1. With world economy going for a toss and Indian economy performing not as expected, stock market analysts are looking at rural customers as the light in the tunnel. The disposable income of rural India has been on uphill in the past decade. With agricultural sops in the interim budget, stocks of companies in agriculture sector have already started showing the movements (Read: Agri stocks rise on FM focus on agriculture). This article in business-standard also draws that in times of the prevailing uncertainty, it is better to invest in companies catering to the rural market. Detailed analysis of companies like Airtel, SBI, Jain Irrigation, Rallis, Hero Honda, HUL and Punjab Tractors are covered.

However, there is a catch: The improvement in the living standard of rural India has been mainly because of increase in price of agricultural commodities. Monsoon has also been very merciful. Falling commodity prices will definitely have an impact of rural incomes which will be seen after some time with a time lag. And let us pray that monsoon carry on with its mercy for Indian farmers who very much depend on it.

2. Well-known agriculture scientist Dr M S Swaminathan called for the creation of a Bio-Valley on the lines of the Silicon Valley to help India speed up the Second Green Revolution in order to remove hunger and increase the contribution of agriculture to GDP to over 25% and create huge agricultural employment. The proposed Bio-Valley should create a perfect balance between organic farming and green agriculture in an absolutely integrated manner in which genetically modified (GM) crops should be discouraged in a proportionate manner.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barley, Interest rates

1. Barley, a key ingredient for brewing beer promises to be a big opportunity to the farmers in Rajasthan. Companies like Pepsico and SABmiller are partnering with farmers for the supply of barley.

PepsiCo had signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with more than 1,200 farmers from Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh districts of Rajasthan to produce high yielding malt barley for the United Breweries group (UB).

SABMiller India sources its barley from Rajasthan and Haryana. While it has a contract farming agreement with HAFED, in Rajasthan, it has a barley project called 'Sanjhi Unnati', for which it has tied up with an NGO, Morarka Foundation.

(source: Times of India)

2. Farmers are not benefiting with the lowering of interest rates. Agriculture cooperative banks and regional rural banks are forced to continue with the high interest rates while offering investment credit for agriculture development and allied activities. These banks offer agriculture investment credit at an interest rate band of 11-to-13% a year. The ticket size of their investment loans are typically less than Rs 50,000. By contrast, agriculture investment loans below Rs 50,000 from public sector banks these days are available at 8.5-9.5% per annum rates.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sugarcane SMP, Bill Gates letter, Value Chain Financing and Conservation Farming

1. The sugar industry in the private and the cooperative sectors have united to pressure the government to announce high support prices for the commodity. Is it not surprising? In this cruel capitalist world, people are fighting to increase the price of commodity that they have to buy!

2. Bill Gates writes about his vision about agriculture in Africa in his annual letter. Very valid points brought forward.

3. This interesting article in ET talks about Value chain financing for agriculture sector. In value chain financing, a bank enters into an arrangement with some or all the players in a particular value chain to extend finance to them. A value chain basically constitute of three levels - farmers producing the primary commodity, an SME or an agent acting as intermediately or adding value to the produce and the large firms using this as raw materials.

4. From business standard: Over a thousand agricultural experts from around the world, who had gathered in Delhi last week for the fourth congress on conservation agriculture, deliberated an issue that is vital for sustaining high-growth agriculture without clashing with the environment.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Growing wheat is what you will see around in most of the parts of the countryside right now if you happen to take a drive outside the city. Here are some pictures clicked by Sumit, Golu and Ritesh while we visited the farm after a long time.

Tobacco Alternative, Investments in Agriculture and Padmashree

1. Government is speeding to fight against anything related to tobacco. It has sanctioned Rs.2.17 crore to Rajahmundry-based Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) to undertake a pilot project on “Alternative cropping system to beedi and chewing tobacco” in various States. The project is aimed at establishing viable and sustainable alternatives to beedi and chewing tobacco crops.

In India, 40 per cent of all cancers are due to tobacco use and as per the tobacco control report, every year 8-9 lakh Indians die because of tobacco-related disease.

And 5.5 million people get jobs in the beedi sector which includes cultivation, processing, manufacture, wholesale trade and retail.

2. Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation paints a rosy picture on the agriculture scene of the country in this article.

3. Padma Shri for innovative farmer. He entered the Limca Book of Records when a mango tree on his mango farm gave an unimaginable yield of 23, 456 mangoes. Yadav, a recipient of many an award, produces close to 92 bags of paddy for every acre while the normal average is around 35 to 40 bags.