Modi urges farmers to use scientific methods to boost production(Agriculture,Hindu,SciTech)

PM lays foundation stone of Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Hazaribagh, says eastern India can take the lead in launching a second Green Revolution.

Calling for second Green Revolution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on asked the farming community to adopt scientific methods to enhance foodgrain production particularly of pulses which India has to import because of shortages.
He said Indian farmers are still lagging behind in terms of availability of good quality seeds, adequate water, power, availability of right price and market for their produce.
“Unless we prepare a balanced and a comprehensive integrated plan, we will not be able to change the lives of farmers,” he said in Hazaribagh while laying foundation stone of Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
Emphasising the need for use of scientific methods for farming to increase productivity, Mr. Modi said it was high time that the country goes for the second Green Revolution as the first such revolution took place long back.
Noting that eastern India has the potential to bring about the second Green Revolution, Mr. Modi said, “It can take place in eastern U.P., Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam, Odhisa.”
Pitching for “per drop, more crop”, Mr. Modi stressed the need for research in the field of agriculture to determine the health of soil and its needs in terms of seeds, water quantity, amount of fertilisation etc.
He said the government was taking steps to train youth in soil testing so that such labs could be set up on the pattern of pathological labs for humans. “This will also lead to job creation,” he added.
Turning to pulses, he said India has to import these because of shortfall in production and noted that a special package has been given to farmers engaged in cultivation of pulses.
“The production of pulses in the country is very low and I urge farmers that if they have five acres of farming land, use four acres for other crops but cultivate pulses on at least one acre,” Mr. Modi said.
High production would help in reducing pulses import and availability of the commodity to poor people of the country, the Prime Minister said.
His appeal assumes significance as output of pulses is expected to be lower this year as against growing demand.
India imports about 3-4 million tonnes of pulses annually to meet domestic demand. The country produces about 19 million tonnes of pulses.
The production of pulses is estimated to have fallen to 17.38 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from 19.25 million tonnes in the previous crop year due to deficient monsoon last year and unseasonal rains and hailstorms during March-April this year.
Mr. Modi also emphasised on the need to focus on enhancing food grain production by adopting scientific methods.
“Research is important in the agriculture sector. And this cannot happen only in one place… We have to see how can we make our agriculture more scientific and increase productivity and solutions are there for these issues,” Mr. Modi said.
He said the condition of the agriculture sector was not good in India as it was left on farmers’ fate. So, while farmers world over have made progress, in India they are still lagging behind because of this attitude, the Prime Minister said.
“Unless we make a comprehensive integrated plan for all the things including fishery, dairy production, bee keeping and honey production, we would not be able to change the economic situation of villages and lives of farmers,” he said, adding “That is why the central government is taking steps to make agriculture modern and scientific.”
He said the “issue of concern” is how to increase the per hectare production. “It’s not that we do not have solutions or we cannot have solutions. Through government policies, through training, resources should be provided and we can make agriculture modern and scientific“.
Noting that population is increasing and land is declining, Mr. Modi said, “In this situation, if we do not increase the productivity, then neither will we be able to feed the country adequately nor provide income to farmers… That is why there is a need to change the conventional and traditional way of farming and do more research.”
A scientific field assistant measures crop growth in a wheat field inside the campus of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi, March 20, 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to promote a “per drop, more crop” approach to farming to make better use of scarce water, and aims to have a new satellite crop monitoring system working in time for the peak of this year’s monsoon in July. Picture taken March 20, 2015.
Keywords: Indian Agricultural Research Institute- Hazaribagh, Green Revolution, Narendra Modi



Estimates and Analysis of Farm Income in India, 1983-84 to 2011-12(Fodder on Agriculture , epw,essay)

This paper presents estimates of farmers’ incomes from agriculture over the past three decades. The income earned by farmers from agricultural activities after paying for input costs and the wages for hired labour has seen low to high growth in different periods during the last three decades. In none of the periods do farmers’ income or profitability of farming show any squeeze. The pace of growth in farmers’ income that began around 2004-05, which reduced the disparity in growth in incomes of farmers and non-farmers, could not be sustained after 2011-12. It looks like the growth in farm income after 2011-12 has plummeted to around 1%, and this is an important reason for the sudden rise in agrarian distress in recent years.



HEATWAVE DEATHS, GDP GROWTH AND MISSED NUTRITION TARGETS(Fodder for Essay and GS)

1. GDP growth at 7.3% in 2014-15


India’s economic growth accelerated to 7.5% in the March quarter from a revised 6.6% in the three months ended December. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the whole year was reported at 7.3%, as against earlier estimates of 7.4%. The agriculture sector shrunk 1.4% in the March quarter after a 1.1% contraction in the previous three months. Manufacturing growth accelerated to 8.4% compared to 3.6% in the December quarter. This sector has been the main source of controversy in the revised method for calculating India’s economic growth. Surprisingly, despite talk of rural distress and companies complaining about poor urban demand, consumption expenditure grew 7.9% in the three months to March, the fastest in eight quarters.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


2. Corporate earnings disappoint


The new economic growth numbers are not matched by corporate earnings. The March quarter net sales of manufacturing firms on the BSE 500 index was largely unchanged from a year ago. Companies seem to have not capitalized on the benefits of a fall in commodity prices and, thus, cheaper input costs. Operating profits fell almost 5%. That also probably indicates a rise in marketing expenses and discounts, which would have eaten into margins. Analysts say this indicates weak pricing power and a lack of demand, a clear contradiction to the sharp consumption growth seen in the GDP numbers.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


3. Heatwave kills more than 2,000 across the country


With temperatures soaring in different parts of the country on account of a heatwave, more than 2,000 people have lost their lives, according to the Press Trust of India. Weather forecasters warn that the killer heat will continue. Andhra Pradesh is the worst hit, with close to 1,500 deaths this year, according to PTI. According to data available with the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of deaths every year in the country due to heatwaves has increased by more than 50% between 2003 and 2013.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


4. Poor crop forces government to buy more grain


Unseasonal rain and a poor crop have prompted the government to hike its purchase of wheat and paddy from farmers. It seems the government is hoping to ward off criticism that it is anti-poor and anti-farmer. Unseasonal hailstorms had ruined the quality of the winter crop, especially wheat. With no private-sector takers for produce of such low quality, the government has stepped up its purchases to prevent farmers from undertaking distress sales. Wheat and rice procurement are up by 11% and 5%, respectively.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


5. Net FDI inflows touch record high in 2014-15


While foreign portfolio investments to India are slowing, net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows reached a record high of $34.9 billion in 2014-15. There was more inbound FDI due to growing investor confidence in India and lower outbound FDI as global growth remains anaemic. Foreign investment inflows to India are predominantly to infrastructure—mainly the telecom, oil and gas, and mining sectors—as well as to the services sectors. FDI in manufacturing has remained lacklustre, although there were some flows into the auto sector. With the government opening up various sectors such as insurance and defence, these stable flows may continue this year as well.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


6. Rate cut chorus gets louder


With inflation well below the declared comfort level of the Reserve Bank of India and the government’s fiscal consolidation on track, chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian has called for interest rate cuts ahead of the monetary policy review on Tuesday. Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha, too, said the time is right for the central bank to lower rates. Citing the example of countries such as China that have resorted to aggressive monetary easing to make their currencies weaker, Subramanian said it is time that India allows the rupee to become competitive in order to boost exports.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


7. India misses global hunger reduction targets


India has missed the target of halving the proportion of undernourished by 2015 under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It has also failed to meet the World Food Summit target of halving the absolute number of the hungry. According to a report jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, India is home to 194.6 million undernourished people, comprising nearly 25% of the number of undernourished people in the world. A whopping 69% of the undernourished people in South Asia are in India alone. Although the proportion of undernourished people in India has declined, there is still a long way to go.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


8. United Spirits faces inquiries by regulators


United Spirits Ltd, now controlled by Diageo, said on Wednesday that it had been served notices by the ministry of corporate affairs and the income-tax department regarding its accounting practices, some of which were again questioned by its independent auditor, BSR and Co. Llp. The maker of McDowell’s No. 1 and Bagpiper whiskies made these disclosures as part of its fourth-quarter earnings report, in which it showed a net loss of Rs1,799.28 crore, partly because it was forced to provide cover for money it is supposed to receive from entities controlled by its embattled chairman, Vijay Mallya.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


9. Fifa officials arrested in corruption scandal


The governing body of world football landed itself an indictment, with the US unveiling charges against 14 Fifa (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) officials. After a sweeping three-year investigation, the US presented charges such as money laundering, racketeering, bribery and fraud. Seven Fifa officials were arrested in Zurich last week. According to The Guardian newspaper, the Swiss government has opened separate criminal proceedings in connection with the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. These decisions were controversial, with claims of bribery and corruption making the rounds since the vote in December 2010. On Friday, embattled Fifa chief Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of the body for a fifth term after the only other candidate conceded defeat after a first round of voting in an election overshadowed by the corruption allegations, reported Reuters.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint


10. Ireland votes for same-sex marriage


Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by popular vote, in the process becoming the 20th to allow such marriages. In the referendum, 62% were in favour of changing the constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. However, the Vatican secretary of state said the vote was a “defeat for humanity”. After Ireland, Greenland’s parliament also voted unanimously to allow same-sex unions.


Graphic: Ajay Negi/Mint



[Audio] किसान टीवी चैनल का शुभारंभ विषय पर चर्चा





THE ROOT OF THE FARM CRISIS IN INDIA( Essay , Agriculture , Polity )

With around 65% of India’s agriculture depending on rain and more than half the population on agriculture, too little or too much rain is always a harbinger of trouble. On occasions like these, accusations of the government of the day being anti-farmer replace all other charges in polemics. Something similar has happened this year, as erratic weather has fuelled a new cycle of distress in rural India.


What is often lost in the din though is what exactly the anti-farmer policies being referred to are. After all, a government cannot be blamed for the fury of the rain god. Is it only a question of providing temporary relief? Or is it the case that a particular set of policies has been used to favour the non-farm sector over agriculture?


A debate over agrarian policy is by no means unique to India or the present period. Its origins go back to the advent of classical political economy. According to several economists, consolidation of farm land was one of the key drivers of increased agricultural productivity in England.


Notwithstanding debate on whether or not this increase merited an agricultural revolution, it is a fact that the dispossession provided footloose labour for England’s industrial revolution. Struggles against the corn laws in 17th-century England, when workers came onto the streets demanding the removal of tariffs on import of corn, is another such example. Corn laws had their advocates in domestic landlords who stood to lose from cheaper imports. David Ricardo, one of the earliest and most influential economists, was an active participant in the debate, demanding the scrapping of the corn laws.


During the colonial period, agriculture became an important instrument for plunder of colonies. Famines became commonplace, from Ireland, England’s first colony, to India, its largest. In his bookLate Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, American political scientist Mike Davies gives a vivid account of how unfettered resource extraction through taxes pushed farmers into destitution across the Victorian empire. The terror of land tax, or lagaan, has found expression beyond the realm of economics. It is no wonder that farmers were an important constituent of the freedom struggle in India. Their aspirations, undoubtedly, were of improvement in living standards and quality of life.


Such aspirations have not fully materialized in independent India. Although farm incomes have risen in absolute terms, the sector has lagged behind the rest of the economy. The ratio of agriculture’s share in national output to its share in employment fell from 0.52 in 1980 to 0.33 in 2010, indicating that the relative income share of households dependent on agriculture has been declining over the past three decades. The biggest fall in the ratio was during 1990-2000. Although this ratio had increased slightly to 0.34 in 2013, plummeting growth rates in agriculture might jeopardize the recovery.


While the past decade has seen an improvement in rural fortunes, it has not been enough to bridge India’s rural-urban divide. While rural monthly per capita expenditure grew at an anaemic annual rate of 0.8% between 1993-94 and 2004-05, it grew at a much faster pace of 3.3% a year between 2004-05 and 2011-12 (at constant 1987-88 prices).


Yet, urban incomes grew faster, and the difference between rural and urban consumption increased slightly over this period. Thus, despite rising rural incomes and falling rural poverty, disenchantment with farming has only grown in the countryside. A 2014 survey by Lokniti found that around 40% of farmers were dissatisfied with their economic condition. The figure was more than 60% in eastern India. More than 70% thought city life was better than village life.


What is the explanation for this predicament? Left-leaning economists viewed land inequality as the root cause of agricultural stagnation. In a 1986 paper, Utsa Patnaik, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, developed the concept of a rent barrier to the development of capitalist relations in Indian agriculture.


Patnaik argued that under the landlord-tenant farming arrangement, all production expenses were borne by the latter because of the competition to secure tenancy. Lack of any investible resources with the tenants adversely affected agricultural productivity. It would take extraordinarily high rates of profits for the landlord to undertake investment in agriculture instead of investing capital in otherwise high-return activities like usury, which had assured returns, Patnaik argued. As a result, investments in agriculture were lacklustre and the sector suffered.


The Green Revolution strategy, which was a combination of state-sponsored new technology, subsidized inputs and guaranteed prices in the form of procurement, could provide this stimulus. Such a strategy had its own limits. In a 1991 paper published in theCambridge Journal of Economics, Amitav Krishna Dutt, a professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame, identified public expenditure in agriculture as an important constraint to agricultural growth under such a strategy.


The Green Revolution strategy has also created other problems. Procurement-driven cultivation of rice in areas of Punjab has raised serious questions of sustainability. A warped fertilizer subsidy regime has created a severe imbalance from desired levels of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium balance in the soil.


Market-friendly economists viewed the gamut of state interventions as the root of the problem since they distorted price signals and led to an unhealthy dependence on subsidies. The state-led push for industrialization in developing economies inspired by the Soviet experience offered heavy protection to industries. But such protection was in effect a tax on agriculture.


In contrast, developed countries offered heavy protection to their farm sector, skewing global trade patterns. The World Bank’s 1986World Development Reportcalled for reforms to ensure that profitability of farming is not artificially depressed because of macroeconomic or sectoral policies.


A 1992 research paper by agricultural economists Ashok Gulati and A.N. Sharma pointed out that effective protection to farm products was much higher in Japan, the European Union and the US than in many developing countries, including India. They argued that trade liberalization under the aegis of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would lead to an improved trade balance and efficiency gains.


Some of their predictions have come true. While developed economies continue to subsidize agriculture, developing economies such as India have raised farm exports significantly over the past two decades. A 2013 research paper by Gulati and his co-authors showed that India’s share in total global exports of agricultural products has increased from 0.8% in 1990 to 2.1% in 2011. This share is more than the share that India has in global merchandise exports—1.7% in 2011 (0.6% in 1990). Such gains in trade have occurred despite ad hoc restrictions on farm trade, and the absence of a stable farm trade policy.


Yet, despite these gains, vulnerabilities in the farm sector remain. With increasing integration with global markets, the Indian farmer has also become more susceptible to price shocks.


Internationally, matters are no different. A food price spike in 2008 has sobered the free-market enthusiasts in agriculture. International food prices have become deeply entangled in complex financial systems such as futures markets. Questions are being raised both in the developed and developing worlds about the extent to which price movements are due to speculation or are a reflection of actual demand-supply mismatches.


Various reports of the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Food have underlined the importance of state intervention in food and agriculture policy. Even the US is expected to spend $956.4 billion on its farm bill over the next 10 years. The extent of government intervention in agriculture is still a matter of debate within the economics profession but there is a broad consensus that such interventions must prioritize investments which lead to sustainable long-run growth over subsidies which offer short-term fixes, both in developed and developing countries.


While two of India’s leading economists, Jagdish Bhagwati and Amartya Sen, have sparred on India’s development trajectory, they are, however, on the same page when it comes to the question of eliminating regressive input subsidies such as those on fertilizers, which benefit rich farmers more than smaller ones.


There is also a broad consensus on the need for a coherent farm policy that addresses issues of sustainability and productivity growth in Indian agriculture. The US, a country with a few hundred thousand farmers, debates its farm bills for years. More than six decades after independence, India does not even have a national agriculture policy.


There are both political and economic reasons for the neglect of broad-based farm interventions by the Indian state over the past decades. According to Brown University political scientist Ashutosh Varshney, social divisions within the countryside have been the main reason why India’s rural voters have failed to push for policies that boost farm and rural incomes.


Varshney argues that while rural voters are a powerful voice in Indian democracy, their large size and heterogeneity limits their influence on public policy. Farmers’ refusal to give precedence to their economic interests over their other interests and loyalties (such as to castes and ethnic groups) have limited the power of rural India, Varshney suggests.


Development economist Pranab Bardhan made a similar argument in his 1984 classic, Political Economy of Development in India, when he pointed out that long-term investment suffers in a country such as India because even the elite is fragmented, and finds it difficult to agree on doing something that will benefit most members over the long run.


In a recent Economic and Political Weekly article, reflecting on his earlier arguments, Bardhan suggests that the collective action problem has become even more acute over the past three decades, with group identities becoming more important than earlier. “In such a context, commitments on the part of the state are often not credible, and anticipating that, different interest and identity groups settle for short-run patronage and subsidies,” writes Bardhan.


The economic reason for the lack of effective farm policies lies in the pattern of state-led development pursued by most developing countries after they gained independence in the second half of the past century. The push towards industrialization was influenced by the work of the Nobel winning economist Arthur Lewis, who argued that a rapid movement away from subsistence agriculture to factory jobs would raise productivity in both the traditional and modern sectors, helping develop under-developed economies. But while Lewis emphasized agricultural development, that emphasis was widely ignored. Agriculture emerged as a key constraint to the expansion of domestic markets in countries such as India, which could not tackle land inequality, and failed to raise rural demand adequately.


As long as the pace of industrial job creation continues to be sluggish, and a vast majority of the rural workforce continues to depend on farms for livelihood, there is no alternative to agricultural development in India. Even if a Lewisian transformation happens, it will take a long time. Besides, it will not be possible to sustain non-inflationary growth in India without rapid farm growth. Unless our policymakers realize this, agriculture will continue to face neglect.



Economics Express runs weekly, and features interesting reads from the world of economics and finance.



Introduction of ‘data exclusivity’ in pesticides Bill will affect farmers(Agriculture, Farmer,Polity,SciTech)

Certain clauses in the Bill threaten to delay the entry of affordable generic products in the market

imageThe
Bill has the potential to create legal monopoly for agrochemicals and
pesticides, making them unaffordable to small farmers ( Credit: Meeta
Ahlawat)While the Centre failed to introduce the
Pesticides (Amendment) Bill, 2008, in the budget session of the
Parliament, which adjourned sine die on Wednesday, a clause in the text
of the Bill poses a definite threat to India’s existing patent regime.
The pesticides Bill, which is supposed to replace the existing
Insecticides Act, 1968, includes “data exclusivity” (DE) for
agrochemicals which would delay the entry of affordable generic products
in the market.
However, the introduction of DE has been a long-pending demand of
multinationals, besides the removal of section 3(d) of the Indian Patent
Act, 1970, which bars them from extending unwarranted patents.
Why is DE undesirable?
Multinationals have been pushing for exclusive rights to
pharmaceutical test data submitted by them to drug regulation
authorities. It is a must for agrochemicals and pesticides companies to
submit data on the safety and efficacy of a new product to regulatory
authorities.
If multinationals get exclusive rights, then they can keep data
regarding a drug’s safety and efficacy confidential for almost five
years.
According to experts, this will block competition because generic
manufacturers, even if they want to register a drug, will not be allowed
to show that their products are therapeutically equivalent to
originator products.
Talking to Down To Earth, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ (MSF) Leena
Menghaney said that if any product is given patent on data exclusivity,
no approval to any other generic version can be granted for the next
five years.
“This is even if the competitor proves that the physico-chemical
attributes are equivalent to those of the first applicant’s product,”
she added. MSF ensures the availability of medicines to the poor.
Earlier, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association D
G Shah had alerted about the government’s plan to introduce the Bill
this session.
In a note written on a website dedicated to patents issues, he said,
“The Bill has a provision that not only makes India’s Intellectual
Property (IP) regime TRIPS plus, but would also eliminate competition
and create legal monopoly for agrochemicals and pesticides, making them
unaffordable to small farmers. The Bill proposes to introduce Data
Exclusivity for a period of five years.”
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS Agreement) sets the standards for intellectual property
protection in the world today.
It came into force on January 1, 1995 and is binding on all members
of the World Trade Organization (WTO). But nowadays, many developing
countries are being pressurised to adopt TRIPS Plus, a step beyond
TRIPS.
If India were to go TRIPS Plus and introduce data exclusivity for
agrochemicals, pesticides and medicines, farmers and poor patients will
be denied access to affordable products.
Experts say this is not an unexpected development. In the past few
years, US multinationals, backed by their government and the United
States Trade Representative (USTR), have been seen pushing the Indian
government to grant patent on DE for agrochemicals and pharmaceutical
products.
Experts have highlighted that granting DE would amount to a TRIPS
Plus agreement, which will adversely affect farmers and reduce access to
medicines in India.

The Bill was introduced by the previous government in which DE for
agrochemicals was included. The Bill is still pending in the Rajya
Sabha. The new government is under pressure from the US on introducing
it, according to experts. 




Centre’s agriculture scheme completed only 62% projects in 6 years(DownToEarth ,Agriculture,Polity,GS Paper 3)

CAG report reveals Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna, launched to increase agricultural productivity, contains no method to evaluate the effectiveness of schemes

Photo: Meeta AhlawatPhoto: Meeta Ahlawat
A report by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has highlighted several shortcomings in the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY), stating that among 4,061 projects taken up for implementation from 2007-08 to 2012-13, only 2,506 or 62 per cent projects were completed.
The report highlights irregularities at every level of the Central scheme launched to incentivise states to draw up tailor-made agricultural strategies.
According to the CAG report, states reported excess receipt of grant by Rs 4,289.20 crore during the review period. Similarly, states reported an expenditure of Rs 31,916.53 crore whereas the agriculture ministry reported Rs 27,938.52 crore. The ministry took no steps to reconcile the figure of the period.
The programme faced apathy from the administration during implementation in different states.
From 2011 to 2013, when Narendra Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, 17 of a total of 27 scheme components or 63 per cent were not implemented, says the report. This programme was under the Vegetable Initiative for Urban Cluster.
Other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also fared similarly in separate categories. Uttar Pradesh did not provide pump sets to 44 per cent of the total bore well target of 17,143, says the report.
Regarding monitoring of the programme, the audit says that RKVY guidelines do not contain any provision for monitoring of RKVY, apart from one per cent administrative provision.
A major missing link in evaluation was assessment of the effectiveness of the scheme. Audit could not find any benchmark prescribed anywhere to measure the increase in production and productivity.
RKVY was launched to increase agriculture growth rate to four per cent by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, said the report, adding that there was no mechanism to measure this directly.
RKVY schemes are formulated and monitored by concerned divisions in the agriculture ministry, but implemented by states with more or less 100 per cent Central grant. CAG suggests that the ministry should coordinate with state governments to rectify the deficiencies cited by the audit.



A new concept called ecological engineering to reduce pests ( Agriculture, The Hindu )

(Read selectively)
Erode district alone has 32,000 hectares under paddy cultivation. The district runs across the Cauvery and Bhavani river basin.
Due to unfavourable climatic conditions pest infestation such as rice stem borer, leaf folder, ear head bug, gall midge, rice thrips — all common in paddy cultivation — create havoc every season leading to nearly 30 per cent yield loss.
Many farmers mostly rely on chemical pesticides (insecticide and fungicide) for managing both pests and infestations. If they are advocates of organic farming then they use bio pesticides to keep the menace under control.
Biodiversity
Presently a new technology called Ecological engineering for pest management has been introduced by National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM), Hyderabad to aid farmers maintain the biodiversity and keep pests under control while at the same time maintaining the paddy eco-system.
Since in southern Tamil Nadu, it is season for paddy cultivation efforts are currently in progress to popularise this concept for promoting bio-intensive integrated pest management method.
The technology trial was adopted in Singiripalayam village and Mr. Karthikeyan, a paddy farmer who adopted this technology in his field, says:
“Due to excessive pesticide use farmers like me often encountered environmental problems. The soil health also got deteriorated. I find the new technology encouraging, since there is a 45 to 50 per cent reduction in pest population.
“I have also observed natural predators on pests like damsel fly, praying mantises and spider population have increased in my field.”
The specialist team conducted an analysis to study the pest defender ratio for plant health and found that the natural enemies are able to maintain the pest population which are infesting the paddy crop.
Natural predators
“In normal situation we use to go for chemical spray, sometimes even three to four sprays to control pests and diseases. By adopting this technique no chemical spray is required. Natural enemies which prey on the pests are allowed to flourish in the fields. By adopting this method I could save nearly Rs.5,000 for a hectare towards the cost of purchase of chemical pesticides during one cropping season,” says Mr.Haridas another farmer. The trial has been implemented for different crops such as blackgram, cowpea, green gram, mustard, sesame, marigold, tulsi, castor and sunflower and found effective.
The Kendra initiated a capacity building programme for farmers in the district and on farm training was given on production of bio-control agents and bio-pesticides to ensure the timely availability of bio-inputs at the farmer level.
Community approach
“A collective approach by the farming community on adoption of this technology will not only suppress the pest population but also enhances the soil health through organic bio-fertilizer utility.
“About 25 farmers from Andhipalayam village near Gobichettipalayam and 30 farmers from Kallipatti in T.N.Palayam block have been initiated into this concept,” explains Dr. P. Alagesan, Programme Coordinator, Myrada Krishi Vigyan Kendra,, Gobichettipalayam, Erode.
A three days field training was organized for the farmer club members, to get first hand information on this approach and an exposure visit was organized by National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM), Hyderabad for a week.
In both the villages, farmers are collectively involved in the production of bio-inputs, predators and parasites for managing the pest population.
Pesticide free
The community approach on this ecological engineering is expected to bring the region as pesticide free zone and enhance the soil microbial activity in the paddy eco system. Plans are on to introduce this method in other crops like cabbage, cotton and groundnut in the coming season.




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Challenge of agrarian distress (Agriculture .The Hindu)

Everything else can wait but agriculture cannot, said Jawaharlal Nehru. This should have been the talisman for India’s progress. Yet, successive governments have failed to accord agriculture the priority it deserves. The tragic suicide of a farmer during an Aam Aadmi Party rally in New Delhi has brought to the fore the agrarian crisis facing India. Official records reveal that more than 2.96 lakh farmers have ended their lives over the last two decades. This year has been particularly bad because of damage to the rabi crop caused by rain and hailstorms. Extensive damage to cash crops and horticulture has brought even some prosperous farmers to the brink of ruin. Despite the adverse impact of climate change, non-remunerative prices, lack of adequate irrigation facilities, absence of assured income and paucity of crop insurance, Indian farmers have brought the country up to the ranks of the top global producers of rice, wheat, vegetables, fruits and milk. Some 85 per cent of India’s farmers are small and marginal, and 65 per cent of farming is rain-fed. But high input costs, low returns, the consequent inability to repay farm loans, and general neglect have made agriculture unviable for the small and marginal farmer. Government spending here has dwindled over the years to 14.7 per cent, and the private sector has demurred, citing lack of rural infrastructure and modernisation.
For all its assertions, the Narendra Modi government has yet to come up with a clear strategy on this front. Barely a few months in power, it came up with some controversial amendments to the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, doing away with the provisions for obtaining consent from landowners and for social impact assessment ahead of acquisition. The government’s insistence that the changes would facilitate ease of business and speed up its development agenda has not convinced the Opposition parties. Its handling of the impact of unseasonal rain on farmers, slippages in keeping its promise to raise the support price for major crops, and tardy payments to sugarcane growers have given rise to a perception that the government is not farmer-friendly. A majority of farmers are in the clutches of private moneylenders who double up as sellers of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs. A failed crop pushes growers into deeper debt, from which it is not easy to escape. The forecast of a deficient southwest monsoon for the second year in a row adds to the worries. In such a situation, the Central government must display political will and come up with urgent measures that will bring the promised “achche din” to farmers. Leaving the task to the States won’t help.