Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bad news for Mang Lovers

Bad wheather has hit Mango crops in Gujarat.

Subdued winter coupled with the surprise showers and cyclone last weekend have spelt disaster for the Kesar mango crop in Talala. Mangoes from Valsad and Navsari are also expected to be bitter and costlier. Experts say the yield may be down by around 80 per cent this year.

Saurashtra accounts for nearly 6 lakh tonnes of mangoes per year. This includes different varieties like Kesar, Alphonso, Langdo, Rajapuri among others.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Organic Farming: Myths and Facts

Indiainfoline has got this straightforward article about facts on Organic Farming.

The bottomline: Organic farming is essentially a marking tool, and cannot replace conventional farming for food security, quality and quantity of crop outputs. With a growing population and precarious food situation, India cannot afford to take risk with organic farming alone.

With all hype surrounding the organic farming, this article is quite a revelation.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

12% Growth in Agriculture

In India! Actually 12.8%. Gujarat has clocked a growth rate of 12.8% in agriculture and hence become the fastest growing state agriculturally. I dont know how much of the credit for this growth goes to Narendra Modi. Let us hope that the same story can be repeated for the whole country.

Various factors responsible for this growth are water from the Narmada
, investments in check dams, widespread cultivation of genetically-modified cotton, a dedicated power grid for the farming sector that assures regular supply during non-peak hours, and rejuvenation of the extension system by the Chief Minister.

New weed in the town, Cotton selling, Food Processing

1. Wheat import in 2006-07 and public distribution resulted in introduction of five new weeds in 10 states. Now Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology is conducting a surveillance project to detect these weeds.

2. CCI and Nafed bought huge quantity of cotton at MSP. But now there is no one to buy it back. So government has instructed them to sell it at lower price while the MSP obligation will be compensated by the Government.

3. Agriculture Ministar Sharad Pawar bats for food processing industry. Sirji, paach saal mein kuch kiya kyoon nahi?


The Rise of Agriculture

The Economist has got an interesting story on the happenings in the world agriculture market recently. Prices of agricultural produce are rising despite the economic crisis. Part of it is because of shift in use of agricultural land for fuel instead of food. But more prominent reason is the demand form poorer countries. People are consuming more and better nourished, however they are far behind as compared to developed countries.

Lot of companies are milking profits and planning investments considering this boom in agriculture sector. BASF, one of the largest producers of agrochemicals, saw 9% growth last year in agricultural sales, including 16% growth in Asia. The competitors like Agrium, CF Industries, Bunge and Syngenta are also prospering. Monsanto is celebrating the glory of genetically modified seeds.

Investment is also growing. Terra Firma, a private-equity firm based in London, announced it would buy 90% of Consolidated Pastoral Company, the vast Australian cattle holdings of the Packer family, which encompass 5m hectares (12m acres) of land. Nufarm, an Australian agrochemical maker, won approval for its acquisition of AH Marks, one of Britain’s oldest chemical companies, which has a valuable portfolio of herbicides. Last year COFCO, China’s state-controlled food conglomerate, bought 5% of Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer. Al Qudra, an Abu Dhabi-based investment company, said it had bought big tracts of farmland in Morocco and Algeria, and was closing in on purchases in Pakistan, Syria, Vietnam, Thailand, Sudan and India. China Agri-Industries, a subsidiary of COFCO, established a partnership with Wilmar, the world’s largest trader in palm oil. Landkom, listed on London’s AIM market, and Black Earth Farming, listed in Stockholm, have each made big investments in farming in Ukraine. And reports are circulating in China about local investors buying 50,000 hectares of farmland in Argentina, and considering other investments in Argentina and Brazil.

I am sure stock analysts (in India as well) will soon hailing agriculture as next sunrise sector.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

mKrishi from TCS, Flood resistant Rice, Monocrotophos

1. mKrishi, a mobile agro advisory system of the Tata Consultancy Services, is an innovation that allows farmers to send queries to agricultural experts in their local languages through a mobile and receive personalised advice or relevant information in the local language. It also helps literacy-challenged farmers by allowing them to send queries and receive advice and information as ‘voice SMS.’

The end-to-end mKrishi solution has been developed through the integration of technologies such as sensors, solar power, CDMA modem and CDMA network, GPS, handset with camera, binary runtime environment for wireless to develop multiple applications on the handset, client software (on mobile phone), expert console software, and an engine to assist in displaying mobile screens in Indian languages.

2. Plant biologist create a type of flood-resistant rice that is being introduced to India and Bangladesh. This was done using the technique called precision breeding in which they transferred the flood-resistant property from a low-yield, poor-flavor rice to a popular rice known as Swarna.

3. A toxic pesticide, popular among some Indian farmers for ending their lives, is banned in other countries but used widely in India. The effectiveness of Monocrotophos for pest eradication is also doubtful.