Indian basmati rice industry to clock its highest export ever

Source: The Economic Times, Mar 27, 2019

The Indian basmati rice industry is on the verge of clocking its highest ever exports of around Rs. 30,000 crore in FY2019 (previous high of Rs. 29,300 crore in FY2014), according to an ICRA report released on Wednesday.

The growth has been fuelled by considerable firming up of average realisations, strong demand from Iran and steady increase in paddy prices for three years in a row. As per an ICRA note, the momentum of the current fiscal is likely to percolate into the next fiscal, FY2020 as well with expectation of 4-5% growth in exports, given the high base.

Elaborating further, Mr. Deepak Jotwani, Assistant Vice President, ICRA, says, “It is important to note that this growth has been despite some challenges that surfaced during FY2019 – pesticide residue issue leading to a decline in exports to European Union (EU), Saudi Arabia mulling adoption of stringent pesticide rules, payment issues from some Iranian importers and uncertainty due to imposition of trade sanctions on Iran by the US Government. The stringent pesticide norms by EU led to loss of exports worth around Rs. 1,000 crore in 9MFY2019, and the same could exacerbate going forward. Nevertheless, the fact that EU contributed around 8% to the exports till FY2018, allowed for the loss to be compensated by exports to the Middle Eastern countries. Further, the industry has been able to tide through most of the other issues, as demonstrated by steady increase in exports to Saudi Arabia and establishment of the rupee payment mechanism to facilitate future trade between India and Iran, its prime market for Basmati exports. However, overall, tightening of pesticide residue norms by key importers could be a long-term risk for the industry.” Read the rest of this entry »

Organic farming is proving a big plus for climate-hit farmers

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Mar 21, 2019

As climate change brought less predictable weather, farmers Deepankar Mandal and Sanjib Mandal used to struggle with growing uncertainty about whether they would get a crop each season.

“Rains have become erratic, insufficient or wrongly timed,” said Deepankar. “The crops failed, the water table got lower each year (and) there were newer pests attacking our paddy and vegetables.”

In recent years, they have tried a new way to cope: producing biogas from cow manure to provide clean energy at home, and then using the leftover slurry to improve the soil in their fields.

The change has helped them save money by cutting out costly chemical fertilisers. It has also reduced deforestation and allowed them to restore the earth so it now holds more water, helping them through droughts, the farmers said. Read the rest of this entry »

Mango exports may hit 50,000 tonne this season

Source: Financial Express, Mar 12, 2019

With a good harvest expected this season, the country’s mango exports is expected to cross 50,000 tonne. Last season, India exported some 40,000 tonne.

Mango exports to US have taken off in a big way with more than 1,000 tonne expected to be exported this year, senior officials of the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) said. Last year, India had exported some 635 tonne to the US. Europe accounts for a large portion of mango imports from India and volume of 5,500 tonne is expected to be sold in these markets.Inspectors from various countries are expected to arrive from Monday to check at the facilities established by the Board for irradiation, hot water treatment and vapour treatment and exports are expected to take off soon, he said.

Meetings have also been held with the officials of Plant Quarantine Department to ensure there are no glitches.

Around 44 export facilitation units have been established across the country for exports. Read the rest of this entry »

India’s agriculture growth seen slipping to 2.7% versus 5% in FY18

Source: Business Standard, Feb 28, 2019

New Delhi: India’s wheat production in the 2018-19 rabi season is expected to be 99.12 million tonnes, marginally less than 99.7 million tonnes last year, according to the fourth advanced estimates. Overall foodgrain production too is projected to fall slightly to 281.37 million tonne, as less rains brought down output.

The country had produced 284.83 million tonne in the 2017-18 crop year (July-June), according to the fourth advanced estimates.

However, according to the second advanced estimate of 2017-18, the foodgrain production in 2017-18 was 277.49 million tonnes. Read the rest of this entry »

CCEA okays Rs 2,000 Crore Nabard agriculture market infrastructure fund

Source: The Economic Times, Feb 07, 2019

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved a corpus of `2,000 crore for Agri Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF) to be created with Nabard for development and upgrade of agricultural marketing infrastructure in rural and regulated wholesale markets.

The fund will provide subsidised loans to states and Union Territories for 585 agricultural produce market committee (APMC) mandis and 10,000 gramin agricultural markets (GrAMs).

“The state governments may also access AMIF for innovative integrated market infrastructure projects, including hub and spoke mode and in privatepublic-partnership mode. In these GrAMs, physical and basic infrastructure will be strengthened using MGNREGA and other government schemes,” said a senior agriculture official.

The agriculture ministry will provide interest subsidy to Nabard in alignment with budget releases during 2018-19 and 2019-20, up to 2024-25. “The scheme being demand-driven, progress will depend on demand from states,” the official said.

Goa sets up 500 clusters to promote organic farming

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Jan 10, 2019

Announcing setting up of 500 organic farming clusters, Goa agriculture minister Vijai Sardesai on Thursday said the objective is to create a ‘brand Goa’ in the farm sector on the lines of ‘Whole Foods’ in the US, and provide an impetus to farming with a thrust on organic farm produce.

The minister also announced plans to sign an agreement with an Israeli company for organic farming, to bring down cost as currently this mode of farming is expensive.

“We are going to enter into an agreement with an Israeli company wherein we will be creating a centre of excellence for organic farming,” he said without offering details while addressing a seminar on farming. Read the rest of this entry »

Govt plans financial package for farmers; step could cost over Rs 600 bn

Source: Business Standard, Dec 28, 2018

New Delhi: With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in mind, the government is looking at a sort of income support scheme for farmers, along with tweaking some existing programmes, to make them more beneficial and improve their acceptability among growers.

On account of this, the exchequer could take a hit of Rs 600-700 billion a year and the finance ministry is looking at options to share the burden with states, officials said. Free crop insurance and tweaking the credit schemes are also being considered as part of the measures.

The Central government is under pressure to do something for farmers, following the ruling BJP’s defeat in three big states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. An option to incorporate income support schemes into the ongoing umbrella programme PM-ASHAA could be considered. Read the rest of this entry »