India becoming destination country for healthy foods like millets: Narendra Singh Tomar at G-20 agri meet

Source: Financial Express, 19 September 2021

India is becoming the destination country for healthy food items like millets and the government is promoting biofortified varieties to address malnutrition, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday said as he participated in the G-20 agriculture meeting virtually.

Tomar said the United Nations (UN) has accepted India’s proposal and declared 2023 as international year of millets and urged the G-20 nations to support the celebration of the millet year to promote nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

The G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting is one of the ministerial meetings organised as part of the G20 Leaders Summit 2021 to be hosted by Italy in October.

“The Government of India has emphasised on re-introducing traditional food items including millet, other nutritious cereals, fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy and organic products in the diet of the people. Their production has been phenomenal in India in recent years and India is becoming a destination country for healthy food items,” an official statement quoted Tomar having said in his virtual address.

Tomar said biofortified-varieties, which are the source of staple diet rich in micro-nutrients, are being promoted to remove malnutrition. About 17 such varieties of different crops have been developed and released for cultivation.

The government has also taken steps to increase the optimal use of water resources, create infrastructure for irrigation, conserve soil fertility with balanced use of fertilizers, and provide connectivity from farms to markets, he added.

The minister was addressing a session on “Working together to achieve the Zero Hunger goal: successful projects implemented by the Ministries of Agriculture”.

Stating that Indian agriculture has achieved great success after the country’s independence, Tomar said, “The Indian agriculture sector remained unaffected even during the COVID pandemic.” Various government initiatives to keep the agri-market dynamic along with the agri-input supply chain during the COVID pandemic have helped the agriculture sector in better performance, he said.

Consequently during the year 2020-2021, there has been increase in the production of foodgrains as well as in exports, he added.

Highlighting measures taken towards sustainable agriculture, the minister said the ‘Per Drop-More Crop’ scheme for irrigation and ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ for organic farming is being successfully implemented. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is being implemented to provide insurance cover for the farmers.

“India is fully aware of its commitments on the issues of climate change and several steps have been taken to make agriculture sustainable,” he said.

To address the malnutrition problem, India is running the world’s largest food-based safety net programme, which includes the Public Distribution System and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, he added.

The government is also providing an annual income support of Rs 6,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. So far, Rs 1.58 lakh crore has been deposited in the bank accounts of more than 11.37 crore farmers under this scheme.

Further, Tomar assured that India will share best practices and build capacities of other developing countries.

He reiterated India’s resolve to continue working together to achieve the Poverty Reduction’ and ‘Zero Hunger Goal as part of the sustainable development goals. He also reiterated India’s resolve to cooperate in research and development as well as exchange of best practices to enhance productivity.

Tomar led a four-member Indian delegation to the G20 Agriculture Ministerial meeting which was organised in a hybrid mode due to the pandemic.

Healthy Growth: Organic farm exports jump 51% in FY21

Source: Financial Express, June 11, 2021

The products were supplied to 58 destinations, mainly the US, the EU, Canada, the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Israel and South Korea.

Overseas demand for India’s organic farm products shot up in the pandemic year and exports of such items surged 51% on year in FY21, beating Covid-induced hiccups in the supply chain.

Outbound shipments of organic products hit $1,040 million last fiscal, compared with $689 million a year before, aiding a rise in the overall agricultural exports, commerce secretary Anup Wadhawan said on Thursday.

Farm exports rose over 17% last fiscal to $41.25 billion when total merchandise shipments shrank by about 7% to almost $291 billion.

Even in volume term, exports of organic products grew as much as 39% to 8,88,179 tonnes last fiscal, against 638,998 tonnes in FY20, suggesting robust growth in demand.

The key organic products that were shipped out include oil cake and meals, oil seeds, cereals, millets, spices and condiments, tea, medicinal plant products, dry fruits, sugar, pulses and coffee.

The products were supplied to 58 destinations, mainly the US, the EU, Canada, the UK, Australia, Switzerland, Israel and South Korea.

Organic products are currently exported from India only if they are produced, processed, packed and labelled as per the stipulations of the National Programme for Organic Production under the state-run APEDA.

As for the overall farm exports, the country recorded impressive growth, despite the logistical and operational challenges posed by the pandemic, as demand for staples jumped. Exports of agriculture and allied products (including marine and plantation products) rose to $41.25 billion in FY21 from $35.16 billion a year before, Wadhawan said. Such exports had remained stagnant for two years — $38.43 billion in FY18 and $38.74 billion in FY19 – before declining in FY20.

Bumper harvest of certain crops, especially grains, sustained efforts by exporters in challenging times, attractive prices abroad and push by the government through various initiatives — including a farm export policy, setting up of clusters and easier compliance—boosted exports.

Wadhawan said exports of non-basmati rice jumped 136% to $4,794.54 million; wheat by 774% to $549 million; and other cereals (millets, maize and other coarse gains) by 238% to $694 million.

Other farm commodities that posted substantial increase in exports were sugar (42% to $2,790 million), raw cotton (79% to $1,897 million), oil meals (90% to $1,575 million), fresh vegetables (11% to 721 million) and vegetable oils (254% to $603 million). The US remained the largest market for Indian farm products, followed by China, Bangladesh, the UAE and Vietnam.

Organised dairy to grow 5-6%, cross Rs 1.5 trillion in FY22: Crisil

Source: Business Standard, May 27, 2021

After hitting a nadir in 2020-21, the country’s organised dairy sector is set to bounce back in the current fiscal. In 2021-22, organised businesses are projected to grow by 5-6 per cent, to cross Rs 1.5 trillion in sectoral revenue for the first time, ratings firm Crisil estimated.

While in the past decade, growth of organised dairy in India has been steady, last fiscal the pandemic induced lockdowns hit it badly. In 2020-21, the sector grew by a meagre one per cent–lowest in a decade. However, with supply chain and delivery mechanisms better streamlined this year, it is set to grow.

According to Crisil, a subsidiary of S&P Global, healthy demand revival for value-added products (VAP) since last year’s lockdowns were lifted has the potential to drive growth this fiscal. Crisil said, “Steady demand for liquid milk will help support overall growth.” Currently, the liquid milk segment contributes 65-70 per cent towards overall sectoral revenue, while the share of value-added products is 30-35 per cent.

“Milk procurement prices are expected to increase with increasing demand, but the higher sale of VAP will buttress material impact on profitability. Besides, skimmed milk powder inventory will also decline by the end of this fiscal, from last year’s peak, easing working capital borrowings. Almost stable profitability, controlled working capital and prudent capital spend will keep credit profiles of dairies ‘stable’”, Crisil noted. Its analysis is based on 65 Crisil-related dairies that contribute over 67 per cent of the total revenue for the organised sector.

While in the last fiscal, the size of the VAP market had shrunk by three per cent, this year it is expected to grow by seven per cent as demand for most VAP products such as ghee, butter, cheese and milk powder is expected to be healthy.

“VAP revenue de-grew last fiscal year because of the complete shutdown in the first quarter, which impacted the hotels, restaurants and café segment (contributing nearly 20 per cent of organised sector revenue). This fiscal, we expect it to rebound on the back of increased home consumption and continuing food-delivery services even in regions seeing lockdowns”, said Anuj Sethi, Senior Director, Crisil Ratings.

However, local restrictions may delay demand recovery in certain VAP categories such as flavoured milk, buttermilk, lassi and ice cream, where sales had rebounded to 70-80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in March. Sales of these products, which typically peak in summer, are likely to be affected if restrictions are prolonged like in the last fiscal. Though its impact is unlikely to be significant on overall growth, as these comprise only 14 per cent of overall VAP sales. Sales of liquid milk are expected to grow five percent year-on-year in 2021-22 compared with three percent last fiscal, backed by increased consumption by households and non-households, supporting overall growth. As a result, milk procurement prices are expected to be 5-7 percent higher this year. Subdued demand had impacted the prices last year.

India’s foodgrain production to rise 2% in 2020-21: Government

Source: Business Standard, Feb 24, 2021

New Delhi: India’s foodgrain production is estimated to rise 2 per cent in 2020-21 crop year to an all-time high of 303.34 million tonnes on better output of rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals amid good monsoon rains last year, the agriculture ministry said.

Crop year runs from July-June.

In the 2019-20 crop year, the country’s foograin output (comprising wheat, rice, pulses and coarse cereals) stood at a record 297.5 million tonnes (MT).

Releasing the second advance estimates for 2020-21 crop year, the agriculture ministry said foodgrain production is projected at a record 303.34 MT.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar attributed the rise in production to efforts of the farmers and scientists as well initiatives of the central government.

As per the data, rice production is pegged at record 120.32 MT as against 118.87 MT in the previous year.

Wheat production is estimated to rise to a record 109.24 MT in 2020-21 from 107.86 MT in the previous year, while output of coarse cereals is likely to increase to 49.36 MT from 47.75 MT.

Pulses output is seen at 24.42 MT, up from 23.03 MT in 2019-20 crop year.

In the non-foodgrain category, the production of oilseeds is estimated at 37.31 MT in 2020-21 as against 33.22 MT in the previous year.

Sugarcane production is pegged at 397.66 MT from 370.50 MT in the previous year, while cotton output is expected to be higher at 36.54 million bales (170 kg each) from 36.07 million bales in the previous year.

Government to set up 2,500 Farmer Producer Organisations; set to cost Rs 700 crore

Source: The Economic Times, Feb 11, 2021

NEW DELHI: The government is planning to spend Rs 700 crore on setting up 2,500 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in 2021-22. This will help the government reach out to 60,000 farmers and provide them with a better farming ecosystem.

A group of small and marginal farmers as FPOs will have better bargaining power and financial strength to cultivate high value crops, said officials. This is part of the government’s endeavour to create 10,000 FPOs with a provision of Rs 6,865 crore in five years, they said.

“FPOs will play a key role in successful implementation of the new farm laws which, the government claims, will enhance income of farmers. Whether it’s selling produce directly to traders and companies or contract farming, FPOs will play a critical role in bringing a large number of farmers and huge chunks of land together,” a senior agriculture ministry official, who is directly dealing with FPOs and agriculture marketing, told ET.

Rs 1,100 crore push for rubber plantation in northeast India

Source: Business Standard, Jan 06, 2021

Guwahati/Agartala: Industry body Automotive Tyre Manufactures Association (ATMA) will invest Rs 1,100 crore to undertake rubber plantation in additional 2,00,000 hectares of land in northeast India in the next five years, officials said on Wednesday.

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, while participating in a virtual seminar, thanked ATMA for agreeing to invest Rs 1,100 crore for developing a plantation in 2,00,000 hectares of land within a span of five years in the northeastern states.

Acknowledging the good quality of natural rubber produced in the mountainous northeast region, Goyal said that the region is an ideal natural rubber producing zone.

“Natural rubber sells at better prices in the market,” Goyal said and urged the eight northeastern states to work out schemes and coordinate with the National Bank for

Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) for loan assistance to the farmers.

Tripura is the second largest natural rubber producing state in the country after Kerala with over 85,038 hectares of land under plantation, producing 74,139 tonnes of rubber annually. Over 1.50 lakh families are directly and indirectly associated with natural rubber cultivation in Tripura.

According to the officials of Tripura Industries and Commerce Department, 90 per cent of the total produced rubber is sent outside the state, earning around Rs 600 crore annually as the state has no rubber based industries..

Natural rubber is cultivated in 16 states in India. With over 600,000 hectares, Kerala tops rubber cultivation, followed by Tripura with over 85,038 hectares under plantation. Other major natural rubber producers are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam and other northeastern states.

Participating in the discussion, Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that currently 60,000 hectares of land in the state are under natural rubber cultivation with 26,658.58 hectares under tapping, producing 31,590 metric tonnes of rubber annually and generating revenues of Rs 427 crore.

“The rubber sector in Assam is providing employment to two lakh people. The Assam government plans to increase rubber cultivation from the potential 1.3 lakh hectares to 5 lakh hectares,” Patowary said.

The minister said that ‘Advantage Assam’ has brought in investments worth Rs 65,000 crore in the past few years and with the simplified MSME Act, 2020 and creation of land bank and industrial corridor, Assam will be the next destination for rubber industries.

Requesting JK Tyre, Apollo Tyre, CEAT and MRF to come and invest in Assam, he said that the state enjoys the geographical advantage of accessibility to ASEAN and South East Asian countries. “The ongoing project of Multi-Modal Logistic Park at Jogighopa (on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra River in Bongaigaon district) would boost trade and commerce. It will take only three hours to reach Assam From Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries,” Patowary added.

Good news for farmers! PM Modi to flag off Indian Railways’ 100th Kisan Rail today; details

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Dec 08, 2020

Kisan Rail Train Service: Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi to flag off the 100th Kisan Rail train service of Indian Railways via video conferencing. This Kisan Rail will run from Sangola in the state of Maharashtra to Shalimar in the state of West Bengal. The multi-commodity Kisan Rail train service will carry and transport vegetables such as cauliflower, chillies, onion, cabbage, capsicum, drumsticks, as well as fruits such as bananas, grapes, pomegranate, custard apple, oranges, etc. The loading and unloading of perishable items by the Kisan Rail train service will be allowed at all enroute stoppages with no bar on the size of the consignment.

According to details shared by the PMO, the Modi Government has extended a subsidy of 50 per cent on transportation of vegetables and fruits. The first Kisan Rail train service of Indian Railways was launched on 7 August 2020, from Devlali to Danapur, which was further extended up to Muzaffarpur. As Kisan Rail got a good response from the farmers, the frequency of this train service was increased from weekly to three days in a week. The Kisan Rail train service is said to be a game changer in ensuring fast transportation of agricultural supplies across the country. Also, this rail service provides a seamless supply chain of perishable items. A few months ago, the government had said that in a bid to serve the purpose of India’s farming community, Kisan Rail trains shall be run with multi commodities, multi consignors as well as multi consignees. The Kisan Rail train service shall be operated between fixed Origin – Destination pairs with enroute halts, as well as loading and unloading shall be permitted at any of the enroute stoppages. The Origin – Destination pairs, halts, routes, and frequency of the Kisan Rail train shall be jointly decided by the Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

Sonalika Tractors launches country’s first field-ready electric tractor ‘Tiger’

Source: Economic time, Dec 23, 2020

MUMBAI: Sonalika Tractors on Wednesday launched the country’s first field-ready electric tractor ‘Tiger,’ powered by a 25.5 kW natural cooling compact battery, which gives much lower running costs compared to a diesel tractor, priced at Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom). The company also opened bookings for its maiden e-tractor.

Equipped with the Sonalika transmission, the field ready e-tractor offers a top speed of 24.93 kmph and a battery backup of eight hours while operating with a two-tonne trolley. As an option, the company is also offering a fast charging system with which it could be charged in just four hours.

“Our promise to every Indian farmer to constantly provide technological evolutions to enhance farm productivity and profitability comes packaged with Tiger Electric, where we have bridged the gap between concept and being field-ready, while keeping pace with global benchmarks in farm mechanisation technology,” said Raman Mittal, Executive Director, Sonalika Group at the launch.

Designed in Europe, Tiger Electric is manufactured at Sonalika’s integrated tractor manufacturing facility at Hoshiarpur (Punjab), the company said.

“Tiger Electric is built on the proven tractor platform of Sonalika to guarantee farmer friendliness and remain easy to use as we progress towards an emission-free, greener tomorrow. Tiger Electric operation is no different than regular tractors making it farmer-friendly while cutting off the fuel cost,” Mittal said.

Tiger electric has the same global technology which is offered to European and American farmers, he added.

The e-tractor is powered by a state-of-the-art IP67 compliant 25.5 kW natural cooling compact battery to ensure 1/4th running costs against the traditionally used diesel, the company said.

The German designed energy efficient Etrac motor offers high power density and high peak torque with zero RPM drop for optimal performance, it added.

“Sonalika’s field ready Tiger Electric tractor is our commitment to accelerate India’s march towards a greener tomorrow and stay in line with Government of India’s ambitious move of introducing EVs by 2030,” Mittal added.

Government aims to double farm mechanisation in next 10 years: Narendra Singh Tomar

Source: The economic, Dec 21, 2020

New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday said the government is focusing on farm mechanisation and asked the industry to provide small machines and equipment to farmers with less landholding to boost their income.

The minister was speaking at the annual general meeting of Tractor and Mechanization Association on Monday.

Tomar talked about the government’s target to double farm mechanization per hectare in 10 years and said it was only possible with the support from industry, CII said in a statement.

The government’s emphasis is on providing large advanced agricultural equipment to farmers for their field, the minister said.

He urged the members of the association to provide small utility machines to small acreage farmers, so that 86 per cent of these farmers can acquire machines easily and their income can increase, the statement added.

Tomar highlighted the various measures taken by the government during the last six years for the growth of the agriculture sector and augment farmers income.

MANAGE offers ₹4-crore grant for agri start-ups

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Dec 08, 2020

Hyderabad: The National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) has announced a financial support of ₹4 crore to about 40 agricultural start-ups.

The grant-in-aid is being given under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR)’s Innovation and Agri-entrepreneurship Development.

“The aim of this programme is to promote innovation and agripreneurship by providing financial support and nurturing the incubation ecosystem,” a MANAGE spokesperson said.

The start-ups cover a wide range of areas such as agro-processing, food technology, value addition, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, digital agriculture and organic farming.

“These start-ups are addressing several challenges faced across the agricultural value chain. These start-ups have emerged as a missing link between the farmers, input dealers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers,” he said. The short-listed start-ups were trained for two months at the Centre for Innovation and Agripreneurship (CIA) at MAANGE in various aspects of running the businesses.

“Start-ups are frontrunners and innovative enthusiasts bringing in the transformation in the agriculture sector,” P Chandra Shekara, Director General of MANAGE, said.