Modi unveils 10,000 Farmers Producer Organisations to boost farm income

Source: Business Standard, Feb 29, 2020

Lucknow: Aiming to augment agricultural income by helping farmers trade in their produce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched 10,000 Farmers Producer Organisations (FPO) all over the country.

Addressing the launch ceremony at Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, Modi said the government would spend Rs 5,000 crore in the next five years to strengthen FPOs for the benefit of farmers.

“The farmers have always been producers, but with the help of FPOs, they can now trade in farm produce. They will sow crop and also act as skillful traders to get the right prices,” he observed.

On the occasion, he also laid the foundation of UP’s mega infrastructure project, the 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway, which is estimated to cost Rs 15,000 crore.

The PM said the Central Government had integrated farm policies with the farmers’ income to maximise the benefits even as he referred to the increase in the minimum support price (MSP), soil health card, neem coated urea and reenergising irrigation schemes to buttress his point.

“More than 85 million farmers’ families have been provided with over Rs 50,000 crore under PM Kisan, of which more than 20 million farmers belong to UP, who have been paid Rs 12,000 crore,’ he said adding payments were being made directly into their bank accounts.

Modi said the PM Kisan and other farmers’ schemes were targetted to save farmers from the clutches of the money lenders and to provide them each penny intended for them.

Meanwhile, he announced plans were also afoot to integrate all PM Kisan beneficiaries with the flagship Kisan Credit Card (KCC), so that such farmers could borrow loans from banks.

Under the Fasal Bima Yojana, the Indian farmers had been paid total claims worth Rs 56,000 crore against the total premium collection of Rs 13,000 crore, he informed.

The PM said the Centre was working on a mega plan to upgrade the rural mandis into modern agri retail markets and to further integrate them with the state agro marketing boards and the government e-marketplace e-NAM.

“We are working on a plan so that the farmers need not travel long distances to sell their produce,” he said adding transactions worth Rs one trillion had been done on mandis integrated with e-NAM so far.

He said at least one FPO should be formed at each block level for deeper percolation of the scheme. Nearly 86 per cent of Indian farmers are small and marginal with average land holdings being less than 1.1 hectares. These together with the landless farmers face challenges in accessing technology, quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides apart from finance, in addition to marketing their produce. The FPOs would provide a platform for ‘collectivisation’ of small, marginal and landless farmers and give them collective strength to deal with such issues.

Centre pays Rs 50,850 crore to farmers under PM-KISAN scheme

Source: The Economic Times, Feb 22, 2020

The Centre on Saturday said it has disbursed Rs 50,850 crore to farmers so far under its landmark scheme PM-KISAN, enabling them to meet farm input cost and household expenses.

The agriculture ministry shared the progress made under the scheme, ahead of its first anniversary on February 24.

The PM-KISAN was formally launched on February 24 last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Under the scheme, the Centre transfers an amount of Rs 6,000 per year, in three equal instalments, directly into the bank accounts of the farmers, subject to certain exclusion criteria relating to higher income status. Read the rest of this entry »

Cabinet approves crop cover rejig, dairy sop schemes

Source: The Economic Times, Feb 20, 2020

New Delhi: The Cabinet has approved revamping of the crop insurance scheme to help farmers manage risks better and cleared a proposal to create 10,000 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) to give cultivators economies of scale and better bargaining power in the market.

It also raised interest subvention under the Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund to 2.5% from 2%, aiming to help 9.5 million milk producers in 50,000 villages with higher cooling, drying and processing capacity as well as infrastructure for value-added products to enhance incomes. Read the rest of this entry »

Govt agencies partner with transportation players to increase agri exports

Source: Business Standard, Feb 17, 2019

Mumbai: Last month when Maersk, the global integrated logistics company, delivered its first end-to-end shipment of freshly produced green chillies from Varanasi to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates (UAE) within nine days, it was among the initial efforts by the company to get agriculture exporters to use its services.

Maersk, in fact, is working closely with Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Development Authority (APEDA) to enable trade opportunities through land and sea routes. This is a part of government efforts to work with transportation players in order to meet the target of $60 billion in agriculture exports by 2024.

“We are preparing a scheme where agri product exports even via airways are being looked into apart from ocean transportation for faster movement of agri cargo overseas,” an official at APEDA told Business Standard on condition of anonymity.

APEDA is an organization under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the firm is exporting agri products worth $38 billion, at the present. “We have partnered with Maersk alone and are awaiting the report on the shipment,” an APEDA official said.

Maersk with 5 per cent of its total India volumes in agri-segment is looking to explore opportunities of growth in this area by maintaining consistency in its shipments.

“There is a lot of untapped potential in fresh produce exports out of India and our market share is one-third of total. Our plan is to have consistent exports of certain products to improve overall market share as well as the volumes,” said Steve Felder, managing director, Maersk South Asia.

Noting the lack of temperature controlled infrastructure, Maersk has also started renting out its containers. The firm also provides end-to-end services for agri product exports, .

“Customers are paying a monthly fee and we maintain the containers. It is an area where customers have responded very well. So we will continue to focus on this segment as well apart from shipment via temperature controlled containers,” said Felder.

While the investment figures were not revealed the company said it has invested not just in improving the container technology but also on research and development. “Other government agencies such as the Spice Board are also taking similar steps to up exports of its products,” said APEDA official. APEDA has already sounded off all the 29 states regarding the agri export plan to which 22 states have responded.

Record grain output in 2020; horticulture to grow too

Source: The Economic Times, Jan 28, 2019

New Delhi: India is poised for a record foodgrain production this year following a surge in the output of wheat and rice, the two major crops of rabi or winter sowing season, according to the first estimates released by the National Collateral Management Services (NCML), a leading post-harvest management company.

Horticulture output will also be more, including tomato, potato and onion, according to the government’s first estimate. The output is estimated to go up to 313.35 million tonnes (mt) in 2019-20 from actual output of 310.74 mt last year.

Wheat production in the 2019-20 rabi season is estimated to be 109 mt, 6.27% higher than last year’s output of 102.1 mt, the NCML estimates showed. The output of rice is estimated to go up 5% from last year to around 15 mt. As a result, total foodgrain production is expected to increase 6.19% to 152.7 million tonnes.

However, the NCML has estimated that production of pulses may dip 2% while the output of oilseeds is likely to decline more than 2.6%.

“Bountiful rains during monsoon season have boosted the prospects of crop production in the ensuing rabi season. This year is likely to see a record foodgrain production, led by the wheat crop along with corn and jowar. Oilseeds and pulses may end up lower than in the previous year,” said Siraj Chaudhry, managing director, NCML.

According to a report released by the company on Monday, excess production of wheat and rice will build on the existing surplus and stimulate additional market distortions. “Record domestic supplies will add to procurement and subsidy load. There is an imperative need to align the production basket to consumption needs so demand generating from growing population and changing lifestyles can be met domestically,” it said.

Meanwhile, overall onion production is estimated to increase 7% to 24.45 mt in 2019-20 crop year, in relief to consumers from high prices seen in the past few months. Production of potato is estimated to go up to 51.94 mt this year.

Agri-tech start-ups set to bloom on huge investments

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Jan 23, 2019

Bengaluru: Capital flows into the agri-tech start-up ecosystem are set to remain robust in the year ahead as innovations fuel digitisation of the farm sector with more farmers adopting technology solutions.

The segment is seen attracting interest from large mainstream venture capitalists such as Sequoia and Accel Partners, even as the existing players raise larger funds to invest in agri-tech, which attracted an all-time high investment of around $300 million in 2019.

“Calendar 2019 was the most active year of investing,” said Mark Kahn, Managing Partner of Omnivore Venture Capital, an agri-tech investor in the country since 2011-12.

Omnivore closed seven deals in the Indian agri-tech space in 2019, its highest ever, with investments totalling ₹100 crore.

Kahn estimates total investments in the agri-tech ecosystem to be at $300-350 million as against $73 million in the previous year.

Nasscom, in its report on agri-tech released in November, had estimated investments in Indian agri-tech at $248 million till July, 2019. Increasing smartphone penetration in the rural set-up is aiding technology adoption among the farmers, who are seeking to minimise their costs while trying to maximise their returns.

“The agri-tech space will continue to do well in 2020 as there is increased interest on the part of strategic, generalist venture capital and late-stage funding entities. I think because of that continued inflow and increased interest, the agri-tech sector will continue to bloom even if the overall macro-economic environment isn’t exactly great,” Kahn said. Omnivore had raised its second fund of $97 million (about ₹700 crore) in April 2019 and it will be used for investments in the next three years.

Recently, Ankur Capital, an early stage VC fund that invests in technology focussed start-ups in agri-tech, announced the first close of its second fund of ₹240 crore. Ankur has invested 70 per cent of its ₹50 crore first fund in agri-tech companies.

The sector has also seen the entry of new players such as Sathguru Catalyser Advisors Private Ltd, which has launched an Innovation in Food Agriculture Fund that aims to invest in climate smart agriculture and food chain innovation. Sathguru recently invested in companies such as nu-genes and Ecozen Solutions.

“2019 was an inflexion year in terms of capital flows. It was the best year for agri-tech since the start of the ecosystem,” said Hemendra Mathur, venture partner at Bharat Innovation Fund.

Start-ups operating in areas such as farmer platforms, precision agriculture, agri-biotech, post-harvest technologies will be high on investors’ radar in the year ahead.

Mathur said the farm-to-fork theme, which connects farmers to consumers, eliminating middlemen, attracted investor interest in 2019, with companies such as Ninjacart and Jumbotail receiving funding.

Themes such as Factory-to-Farm, which help farmers access agri inputs directly from producers, will be of interest in the year ahead. Also, themes using data to build predictive models in the areas of price-forecasting, pest attacks and yield estimation, will attract investor interest in the next two years, Mathur said.

West Bengal emerges at the top in vegetable production

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Jan 20, 2019

New Delhi: West Bengal has overtaken Uttar Pradesh and emerged as the top State in vegetable production in 2018-19, the data presented at a recent horticultural meeting showed.

According to the State-wise horticulture production data released at a conference organised by the Agriculture Ministry last week, West Bengal produced 29.55 million tonnes (mt) of vegetables last year against 27.70 mt in the year before. Vegetable production in UP, which held the numero uno position earlier, came down to 27.71 mt in 2018-19 from 28.32 mt the previous year.

Fruits production

Andhra Pradesh continued to hold on to the pole position in fruits with 17.61 mt, followed by Maharashtra (10.82 mt) and UP (10.65 mt). While Andhra Pradesh marginally improved its position, Maharashtra overtook Assam, which occupied the second position in 2017-18. UP, too, moved several notches up from 2017-18 levels to reach the third rank.

West Bengal accounted for 15.9 per cent of the country’s total vegetable production in 2018-19 while UP produced 14.9 per cent. Madhya Pradesh (9.6 per cent), Bihar (9 per cent) and Gujarat (6.8 per cent) were the other major vegetable producers.

The area under vegetable cultivation increased from 6.74 million hectare (mh) in 2004-05 to 10.10 mh in 2018-19 (third advance estimates).

Vegetable production increased from 101.25 mt in 2004-05 to 185.88 tonnes in 2018-19, with an average productivity of 18.4 tonnes per hectare. The major vegetable crops grown in India, which accounts for 11.2 per cent of global vegetable production, are potato, tomato, onion, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, and okra. With a production of 98.58 mt, fruits account for about 31.4 per cent of the total production of horticulture crops in the country. The area under fruit crops cultivation during 2018-19 was 6.65 mh, which is 26.1 per cent of the total area under horticulture cultivation in India.