“Anand pattern” to drive Organic farming growth in North East

To put on the fast track the growth of organic farming in north eastern states, central government has designed a scheme based on the principles inherent to the Anand pattern for milk development in the country. The scheme will be accordingly followed in all the seven states of the region to make the tools for development including the knowledge of scientists, etc available to the farmer-participants. It will also

integrate knowledge systems and lead the professionals required to ensure best possible outcomes for the village communities and their natural environments. For implementation of the scheme nodal agency for development of North Eastern Region Ministery of Development of Ne Region (DONER) has set aside a fund of Rs 100 crore for the current year. Anand pattern as an organizational structure was a huge success, able to rapidly increase milk production in India which followed over 100 years of economic, social and political dynamics.

Based on similar lines taking into account the demographic pattern, cultural diversity and other factors the organic farming schemes has been designed to expedite the tepid growth process of the promising sector. Integration of farming system (IFS) approach with emphasis on two-four main commercial crops in combination with other crops under multi-cropping, rotational cropping, inter-cropping, mixed-cropping practices with allied activities like horticulture, livestock, animal husbandry (diary, goaterry piggery, poultry, duckery), apiculture, sericulture etc, the report said.

Many north eastern state governments are promoting organic agriculture . Sikkim has already brought 64,296 ha area under certification process. Nagaland and Mizoram have also drafted and adopted policies to promote organic farming, but they are yet to implement necessary strategies to under certification.

The scheme also envisages development of dedicated seed production cluster under each council/ federation which will be formed based on the Anand pattern of development followed in Gujarat under scheme Flood for the speedy development of dairy industry.

To implement the scheme a project management unit consisting of professionals will be set up in Guwahati by the DONER Ministry and placed under the administrative control of the North Eastern Council.

Retrieve from – http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20151011/2699460.html

Efforts on to make tea industry climate-smart

Rainfall has traditionally been plentiful for growing tea, especially in India but with recent changes in the climate, surface and ground water are becoming important irrigation systems.

At a time when climate-change is impacting tea-cultivation in a major way, efforts are on to make tea estates climate-smart so that the industry develops resilience to uncertain and negative climate change impact.

A project has been launched by the Tea Research Association along with Southampton University on climate — smartening tea plantation landscapes, which would run for two years. It is funded by the U.K.-India Research Initiative.

The project is investigating the impact of climate change on tea production and livelihoods in North-East India, revolving around climate variability, land-management practices and climate-smart agriculture practice.

It may be mentioned here that tea is a rain-fed perennial crop, which provides the main ingredient for one of the world’s most important beverages. It supports livelihoods across the humid regions of south and south-east Asia and east Africa. The physiology of tea plants is closely linked to external environmental and climatic factors (elevation, precipitation, temperature, soil moisture, temperature and fertility, light duration and intensity, humidity, shelter, shade and CO2 concentration) and any adversity in these conditions can significantly impact yield, revenue and livelihood security. Rainfall has traditionally been plentiful for growing tea, especially in India but with recent changes in the climate, surface and ground water are becoming important irrigation systems.

Climate-risk is high in Assam, ranging from annual flooding of the Brahmaputra river due to intense monsoon rains and soil water-logging, to winter precipitation deficits with seasonal droughts. Regional trends indicate annual mean minimum temperatures have increased and annual mean precipitation has decreased, particularly in Assam. Such impacts will have a significant effect on tea crop productivity and directly affect the livelihoods of dependent communities as Assam contributes 50 per cent of India’s 1,200- odd million kg.

The effects, which were noticed over the last few years, seem to have become pronounced over the last three years or so leading an industry honcho to say: “it is no longer climate change…it is climate chaos”. ITA officials said that the weather was hardly following any pattern.

Crop-loss has become almost the norm across the world’s tea growing regions. India too has suffered. What worries the industry most is that although it has so far not experienced any major crop loss, tea quality is suffering and pest-attacks are increasing. Due to climate change, there has been crop loss during seasons when some of the best teas are harvested (spring and early monsoon).

However, broad-scale climate-landscape modelling predicts that tea yields in north-east India are expected to decline by up to 40 per cent by 2050. As yield is directly associated with revenue, changing climate is also likely to impact economic structures of those reliant on tea, particularly the smallholders given their increased vulnerability to changes in the system.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindu.com/business/efforts-on-to-make-tea-industry-climatesmart/article7724021.ece

For a second Green Revolution in India

In an effort to tackle sluggish long-term agricultural growth in India, Prime Minister Modi is calling for a second Green Revolution. One in every two Indians relies on agriculture for livelihood, yet India still has the second highest number of undernourished people in the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that our government wants to promote a return to that golden era of the 1970s and 80s, which saw record yields thanks to the technologies made available at the time — we had improved high yielding varieties of rice and wheat, better irrigation, fertilisers, and pesticides.

But the agricultural landscape has changed drastically since this intervention, that a second Green Revolution is going to need an entirely new approach, and an entirely new set of technologies. Climate change is tightening its grip and threatening food supply, not just in India but worldwide. It has never been more important to protect the scarce natural resources that are essential to agriculture.

Focus on precision

A new approach, termed “precision agriculture”, will be key. We now have a wealth of data at our disposal, which, if harnessed appropriately, can help farmers make the most efficient use of vital inputs such as water and fertiliser by applying them in precise amounts. A new mobile phone application called MITRA, for example, is being developed in Tamil Nadu, that will give site-specific recommendations to farmers on the correct fertiliser dose, based on data from the local department of agriculture. It is able to operate offline for farmers in remote areas who do not have internet access. This prevents the farmer from wasting important inputs, and also reduces agriculture’s impact on the environment.

The correct type of fertiliser is, in fact, as important as the correct quantity, which should be an important consideration in any plan for a second Green Revolution in India. Modi’s call to reopen fertiliser plants in Sindri (Jharkhand) and Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), and open new ones in West Bengal must take into account that India’s soil is diverse, and fertiliser requirements will vary greatly across the country. Just like humans, soils need a balanced diet of the right kind of nutrients in order to be healthy; this is a fact that has been overlooked by government subsidy programmes that only favoured urea for a long time. The right kind of nutrients for a specific soil area needs to be applied, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place for optimal soil health. This is called the 4Rs or nutrient stewardship.

Testing of samples of soil from agricultural fields is vital for achieving nutrient stewardship. India has a vast network of 661 soil testing laboratories including 120 mobile vans operating in 608 districts that can carry out 7.2 million tests annually. Farmers will soon be able to access these reports online. Besides soil-testing, gadgets such as leaf colour charts and optical sensors are becoming popular with farmers to guide the application of urea. This nitrogen fertiliser, if used incorrectly, can affect groundwater reserves and contribute to emissions of the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.

Interactive applications

Mobile-based applications for farmers will form an important part of the data-driven precision agriculture approach. But it is important to ensure this meets the needs of the farmer. Research carried out by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico, found that these applications need to be interactive; the farmer must have a way of asking questions and giving feedback, either through a helpline or via “field scouts” who visit the villages receiving the mobile-based information. The research also showed that a wider range of issues needs to be tackled in addition to input use, such as how to deal with pests, and new climate-resistant crop varieties. This signals an important area where governments and NGOs can intervene and offer this kind of detailed advice on an ongoing basis. It will also be key to ensure that applications are affordable and accessible.

Another major challenge is the evidence that groundwater stocks are rapidly depleting. Groundwater sustains around 60 per cent of agriculture in India, while 80 per cent of the people living in rural areas use groundwater for their domestic needs. Laser levelling is a technology that can grade an agricultural field to a flat surface by using a laser-guided scraper. Laser levelling has been shown to improve crop yields, reduce labour time spent weeding, and, in particular, reduce water use for irrigation by up to 20-25 per cent.

Although the challenges to bringing a second Green Revolution to India are immense, it is not impossible. India has led the charge before, and yielded phenomenal results. But we must recognise that success will be just as much about using resources efficiently, as about increasing yield. If we consider these two equally, we will succeed.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/for-a-second-green-revolution-in-india/article7554316.ece

Organic food business grows four-fold in 3 years

Growing health consciousness and awareness about harmful pesticides has nearly quadrupled the size of organic foods in India in the last three years. Organic foods, which started out by occupying fewer shelves at retail stores, is now a Rs 300 crore business in the domestic market. The export market from India is even bigger at Rs 700 crore, according to industry experts.

Consumers are opting for healthier eating habits which is driving entrepreneurship in organic foods, prodding retailers to offer greater shelf space to brands in this category. As per industry estimates, the category is currently growing at 50 per cent per annum.

Industry experts believe with growing talk about the bad effects of chemicals and pesticides used in the food industry, products that are believed to be free of such substances will grow exponentially.

“Three years back, this market was approximately Rs 70 crore. We are growing at a very healthy rate year on year. In the last 5 years, shelf space given to organic foods has tripled. However, retailers are yet to realize the full potential,” said N Balasubramanian, CEO, Sresta Natural Bioproducts, who claims its brand 24 Mantra is the largest player in organic foods in India.

The company is present in key categories like atta, brown rice, honey, tur dal, turmeric, juices and breakfast cereals in organic foods.

Given the growth of this market, 24 Mantra, which is present in more than 125 cities across India, is planning to extend to ready to cook traditional products like pongal, poha, khichdi and millet dosa as well.

Mohit Khattar, MD & CEO, Godrej Nature’s Basket said awareness around polluted ground water near industrial area, increasingly chemical laden environment in general or the harmful impact of chemicals in day to day food has added to the consciousness of consumers. “It definitely makes them want to change simple things around them. And one of the things they can change easily is adopting a healthier and more sustainable way of life. It is this context that organic products are seeing increased acceptance and growing popularity,” said Khattar.

Godrej Nature’s Basket, which has been a pioneer in bringing and selling organic products like tea, pasta, sauces, across its stores, plans to enhance the range of organic options further and making the availability of these more consistent.

Organic packaged food comes at a premium to the regular variety of packaged commodity. If the monthly household expense for a family of four on grocery is in the range of Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000, a switch to a brand of organic food would cost Rs 1,200-1,500 more per month. “This is almost the same as what a family would spend on a movie outing over a weekend,” said Balasubramanian.

Retrieved from – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Organic-food-business-grows-four-fold-in-3-years/articleshow/48646912.cms

Tea Board incentivises tea exporters in North-East

The Tea Board of India has come up with an incentive scheme to provide monetary support towards additional transport and handling charges incurred by tea exporters in the north-east.

Under the scheme, tea exports from the north-east are eligible for a financial assistance of Rs.1.50 per kg of the product if the same is exported from the Inland Container Depot (ICD) located in Guwahati’s Amingaon area.

“The scope of the original scheme for assisting tea exports towards meeting handling, packaging, transport, freight charges and value addition costs have been extended with a view to also compensating exporters who are shipping teas from ICD Amingaon,” a Tea Board of India circular said.

The tea authority under the ministry of commerce and industry said the companies shipping Indian variants of tea abroad have to pay additional charges which are levied by chipping companies and the scheme will help the exporters.

The scheme will be applicable to exports during the 2014-15 fiscal and on disbursements made during April-December 2014.

Retrieved from – http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/tea-board-incentivises-tea-exporters-in-north-east-115081800768_1.html

Amalgamated Spice Park inaugurated in Koliabor

“Protidin” newspaper dated. 30th July 2015


Chief Minister Mr Tarun Gogoi formally inaugurated the first Spice Park of the North eats India at Koliabor in Nagaon district on Wednesday. Mr Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, Amalgamated Plantations was present with the CM at the opening ceremony of this park, established by APPL, an associate of Tata Enterprise.

Social welfare scheme and tea garden community welfare programme at Hathikuli Organic, Misa Sports Complex for Heritage and tea tourism at Misa Polo Club were also inaugurated by the CM.

The Spice Park comprises of three processing units viz processing of tuber spices like turmeric and ginger in one line, seed spices like black pepper and mustard etc in the second and chillies in the third line. The enterprise also encouraged the use of alternative sources of energy for energy conservation.

It is expected that the spices produced by the farming community of North-east India will get a proper market linkage and also cater for specific market needs.

Translated by – Mr Haren Pathak

‘God’s gift’ from spice plant – Tea company sets up largest facility in Kaliabor

Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), the second largest tea-producing company in the country, will be offering its spice products under the brand name Anshi.

Anshi means “God’s gift” in Sanskrit.

Amalgamated Spice Park

The company commissioned Amalgamated Spice Park, the largest spice-processing plant in the Northeast which is housed at a state government industrial facility at Kaliabor in Nagaon district on July 29.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurated the project. Besides this, he also inaugurated three more projects of the company.

A senior official of the APPL said in order to be more customer-centric and offer some of its products directly to end-consumers, it has decided to market them under the umbrella brand Anshi.

“It would encapsulate and connote everything that the APPL’s products would offer. Its place of origin and the resultant goodness in health and taste that only natural foods can promise,” he said.

The unit is spread across 6.2 bighas with a built-up area of 30,000 square feet.

“The Spice Park aims to promote the indigenous spices of the Northeast through fair price, value additions and creating market linkages in domestic and international markets for the spice-farming fraternity,” the official said.

It will have three processing lines – one for tuber spices like ginger and turmeric, second for seed spices like black pepper, coriander, mustard and the third one for chilli processing.

Many of the spices have been sourced from spice-specific clusters identified at various locations in the region.

The company at present grows only black pepper and has planted over three lakh trees.

“In the next two years, this figure will be approximately seven lakh trees. The current production is 40 tonnes and on maturity this figure will exceed 600 tonnes,” the official said.

Black pepper is the most-traded spice in the world. It is known as the king of spices for its hot, biting flavour and pungent aroma.

The plan at present is to sell spices to manufacturers across the country. Spices would be available at its kiosks in Assam and the Dooars. Exports will be planned at a later stage.

“The unit has been designed to address sustainability issues through initiatives in water and waste management, use of alternative sources of energy and landscaping for improving air quality,” the official said.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150727/jsp/northeast/story_33857.jsp#.VbsVUvOqqko


NASA help for struggling Assam tea

Several international institutions, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), have come forward to bail out the tea industry which is passing through “difficult times” because of climate change, resulting in unpredictable weather and increasing pest attacks.

Against an unprecedented dry spell in the last couple of years, tea-rich Upper Assam has received 260mm more rainfall this year, receiving 1,095mm rainfall till now against 829mm last year.

Tocklai director M. Muraleedharan said the institution has tied up with Cranfield University of the UK and Kobe Gakuin University of Japan recently to find ways for the tea industry to cope with climate change in one of the highest tea-growing regions of the world.

“Process is also on to tie up with Ethical Tea Partnership, a London-based organisation, which is currently working with the Kenyan tea industry on climate change,” the director said.

Tocklai deputy director R.M. Bhagat said the project with Cranfield University would be funded by the British Council while the Kobe Gakuin University project would be funded by Sumitomo Foundation of Japan.

He said from September, Nasa would start providing data on soil moisture status of the Northeast, which would be a big boost for not only tea but for other crops as well.

“Data from Nasa will start flowing in from September and all the participating institutions in this particular project would benefit,” Bhagat said.

Tocklai is among the 50 institutions in the world that have tied up with Nasa in the soil-mapping project.

“We have tied up with Nasa in this particular project and we are hopeful that its data would be of great help for not only tea but other crops in the region,” Bhagat said.

He said the data would help in proper application of fertilisers and irrigation facilities.

The Tocklai director said an unpredictable weather and the limitation for the use of chemicals after the implementation of the plant protection code on tea have resulted in an increase in pest attacks on tea bushes.

Plant protection code (PPC) is a set of guidelines for regulating the chemical inputs in tea cultivation and was implemented from January 1 this year with the aim to make Indian tea a safe and healthy drink.

Muraleedharan said Tocklai has appealed to the Central Insecticide Board, the agriculture ministry and other authorities concerned to allow tea planters to use at least two chemicals – flubendiamide and emamectin benzoate – which are most essential to fight against the luper caterpillar, one of the most common pests of the tea bush.

“Going by the increasing pest attacks, there would be a big impact on production,” he warned.

Assam produces more than 50 per cent of the country’s over 600 million kg of tea annually and the five districts of Upper Assam – Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat – produce over 400 million kg of tea annually, which is 70 per cent of the state’s production.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150723/jsp/northeast/story_33187.jsp#.VbB2IqSqqko

Spices Board opens two signature shops ‘Spices India’ features value-added products

Spices Board has launched signature shops under the brand name ‘Spices India’ that showcases the country’s choicest spices and their value-added products, including lifestyle and personal care, under one roof.

These two showrooms were opened in the national capital—one on the arterial Janpath road and the other at Dilli Haat, a fashionable open air plaza for ethnic products, in Janakpuri in west Delhi.

Union Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher, while inaugurating the two shops says  “This will promote an array of quality products like spices-infused chocolate slabs, beauty creams, fairness oils, bathing bars, shower gel and shampoo.”

“Purity and quality will be the hallmarks of such outlets. Strict adherence should be made to the correctness of weight and quality. India thrives on spices; so does the world now. Spices are class-neutral. Some spice or the other is to be found in everyone’s palate in our country,” he adds.

Secretary Kher suggested setting up of ‘Knowledge Kisoks’ within the outlets to provide information to visitors on spices grown in various states. “We also need to popularise ‘Spices India’ among the domestic tourists. Our focus should be on improving packaging, processing and branding, besides better utilisation of technology.”

The shops sell aromatic gel candles as a key attraction. These are available with the fragrance of nutmeg, clove, cardamom, mint, vanilla and cinnamon.
‘Spices India’ displays a wide variety of Indian spices and value-added products derived from them. It specially features an assortment of whole spices and a casket of exclusive spices extracts.

A premier gift item is a slab of chocolates that contain cumin, chilly, cinnamon, cardamom and clove tangs. Also available are gift boxes and containers with an array of superior quality spices.

All the showrooms have a ‘Spice Kitchen’ where visitors can touch, feel and taste spices. There are men at the counter willing to provide information about the spices. Further, there is a small library where books and documentaries are available on varieties of spices. To top it all, there is a map of India that shows spices grown in a particular region.

Dr. A. Jayathilak, chairman, Spices Board says,” ‘Spices India’ shops are part of the new thrusts to ensure sustainability of the industry. “We have chalked out an expansion plan. We are talking to the state governments to provide space. We are hopeful of opening new outlets in various parts of the country.”

He said the Board was continuing its efforts to help farmers and collectives to secure a better price for their produce by trading directly with them. “Such a system eliminates middlemen; the collective can demand a fair price for the larger quantity of goods they sell. We are paying them higher price than normal market price,” he added.

Headquartered in Kochi, Spices Board has been adding new spices and products to its export casket also in its bid to accomplish the primary objective of bringing about rapid and systematic diversification of spice industry.

Also, Spices Board’s novel initiative ‘Flavourit’ undertakes the branding, packaging marketing and promotion of finest spice goods collected from individual farmers and collectives to be sold to the general public. It streamlines the efforts of spice growers working at grassroots with market forces by helping growers, collectives and developmental ventures to bring the economic and social inclusion.
With regional laboratories in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Tuticorin and Guntur, the agency places increasing emphasis on value-added spices and spice derivatives in a bid to establish international spice brands and build globally-acceptable benchmarks in quality and safety parameters.

As for flavour, it would seek to restore the quality and popularity of once famous grades of spices like Alleppey Green Extra Bold Cardamom, Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold (TGEB) Malabar Pepper and other spices, known for their culinary, therapeutic and cosmetic properties. Spices Board encourages and facilitates direct purchase from farmers to ensure easy accessibility of the merchandise it sells, besides lending quality to the market products.

Reference – http://www.fnbnews.com/article/detnews.asp?articleid=37391&sectionid=45

Kolkata to get nation’s first fish hospital

A fish hospital — the first of its kind in the country — will become operational in Kolkata in two-three months. The hospital, with facilities to diagnose and treat ailments in fish commercially bred in the state, will help farmers increase their produce.

West Bengal was the country’s largest fish producer till it was overtaken by Andhra Pradesh in 2011-12. Experts believe that the yield in Bengal can go up if healthier species are bred.

“The building has already been constructed and electrical work is in progress. Our aim will be to find out what ailments the fish bred in the state suffer from and help farmers increase the yield. While Bengal is one of the largest producers of fish in the country, things can certainly improve. The hospital is coming up at our campus in Panchasayar’s Chakgaria in Kolkata,” said Professor T J Abraham, professor (fishery microbiology) and principal investigator, department of aquatic animal health, faculty of fishery sciences, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Services (WBUAFS).

The facility comprises 50 glass aquariums and 25 circular water tanks to house the fish. The expense of Rs 1.75 crore has been borne by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research under the ministry of agriculture. According to Abraham, the hospital will first diagnose and treat fish that are bred by farmers. At a later stage, efforts may be made to find out ailments that wild fish, caught along Bengal’s coast, suffer from. A study conducted by Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) revealed that several species found in the wild, particularly marine varieties, have parasites in their intestines. This may affect their internal organs, reducing their growth and egg-laying capacity.

According to experts at WBUAFS, nearly 20% of the state’s fish production is affected due to poor management practices. It is estimated that India’s fish suffer from 60-65 diseases and nearly 10% of Bengal’s fish is wasted due to this.

A study published in the International Journal of Bio-resource and Stress Management by four researchers, including two from WBUAFS, suggested that parasites are more prevalent in carps cultured in bheris of Bengal and around Kolkata as farmers use sewerage water. This comprises 99% water and 1% of other material, including pathogens like bacteria, virus and large parasites. These can cause primary and secondary infections and mortality in fish.

According to Abraham, farmers can approach the hospital whenever they suspect a problem with their fish. They can report abnormalities like change in colour or size. They can even bring in samples for diagnosis and treatment.

Reference – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Kolkata-to-get-nations-first-fish-hospital/articleshow/47777615.cms