Amalgamated Spice Park inaugurated in Koliabor

“Protidin” newspaper dated. 30th July 2015

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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

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‘Union and State govts must back us with sops’

Falling prices, wage increases coupled with high fertiliser cost have put the South Indian tea industry in dire straits. Tea prices of late have dropped 13 per cent compared with last year, thereby putting several companies in an unviable position. There has been a growing demand from the plantation industry for government support as a whole on account of high labour involvement in various phases of tea production.

Chacko P Thomas, Managing Director, Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Pvt Ltd (KDHP), spoke to BusinessLine on the current phase of the industry, issues faced by the sector and increase in production cost which have put the plantation sector on the verge of collapse. Labour wages have increased by 18.34 per cent in the past two years while prices registered a 13-per cent drop.

Edited excerpts from the interaction:

With the prices falling, how do you see the prospects in the current year?

Tea prices in South India have fallen to alarmingly low levels from April and the free fall is continuing. It is certainly a threat for the survival of the plantation sector and the industry has sought support from the Union and State Governments in the form of export incentives, plantation and land reforms and tax breaks to ensure sustainability of the plantation industry.

Unfavourable policies such as Plantation Tax, Agriculture Income Tax, Basic Land Tax etc specifically in Kerala have further aggravated the situation, forcing South Indian tea companies to operate on razor thin margins. With wage increase in the North-East, I understand that the situation there too is expected to deteriorate.

What is the situation on the export front? Have problems in West Asia and Pakistan affected the trade?

Export markets are dull as far as Indian tea is concerned due to over production in export-oriented tea economies such as Kenya and Sri Lanka, making low-priced teas easily available in the international market. The demand in West Asia and Pakistan, due to political turmoil and cheaper Kenyan teas, is for very low-priced Indian teas, which is not economically feasible to produce.

What is the status of the proposal for tourism-promotion activities in estates?

All activities on the non-tea and plantation tourism front have been suspended at the moment as we are awaiting certain clearances from the government. The continued viability of the plantations is greatly dependent on obtaining these permissions and implementing the same in the shortest possible time.

Do you have any plans to acquire other plantations?

There are no plans to acquire any plantations. However, we will continue to support partial, inorganic growth, by taking factories in other States to process bought leaf.

How was the performance of KDHP last year?

The performance of KDHP during the last year was quite good with the company turning out with a profit before tax of ₹23.94 crore. The production in 2013-14 was 23.46 million kg while the turnover was ₹287 crore.

How is your Ripple brand doing in the retail market?

Ripple has created a strong market presence in Kerala and we have now slowly introduced it into Tamil Nadu in the first stage, after which we will cover the rest of South India in a phased manner. We are also working on introducing new variants of Ripple in the market.

What is your share in organic tea business?

We produce up to 2 lakh kg of organic teas annually. We have a small yet significant presence in the organic market.

Retrieved from – http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/union-and-state-govts-must-back-us-with-sops/article6608633.ece

India Organic Food Market Set to Grow at 25% CAGR till 2019 Says TechSci Research

Growing Per Capita Income, Changing Lifestyles and Increasing Consumer Interest to Augment Growth in Organic Food Market in India.

According to “India Organic Food Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2019, the organic food market revenues in India are expected to grow at a CAGR of around 25% during 2014-19. Some of the key reasons attributed to anticipated high growth in organic food market include growing health consciousness among consumers, rising disposable income, expanding middle class population in the country. India is also emerging as a potential destination for organic farming due to growing number of certified farmlands, as well as diverse climatic conditions and soil types in different states across the country. The availability of organic food products is gradually increasing due to rise in the number of retail and distribution stores. Various major players such as Sresta Natural and Morarka Organic Foods are expanding their retail distribution network in Tier I and II cities through tie-ups with leading retail chains as well as through establishment of exclusive stores and outlets.

The certified land under organic farming increased to 5.21 million hectare in 2012-13 from merely 1.08 million hectare in 2009-10, which is expected to increase overall organic food production in the country. The western region is the highest revenue contributor for the country’s organic food market, followed by the southern region. The major organic food producing states in India include Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Considering high distributor margins, organic food companies are collaborating with leading retail chains, which is expected to increase the availability of organic food products in the future. Various organic food companies are also increasing their focus on selling their products through E-commerce websites. All of these supporting factors, both from the production side as well as demand side, are expected to significantly contribute in expanding the size of organic food market in the country over the next five years.

“The market for organic food products in India is highly unorganized.  With rising cases of food adulteration across the country, the demand for organic food products has gone up significantly. Growing number of upper middle class people are becoming increasingly concerned about the food quality, and are willing to pay a premium of 10-20% for organic food products. As a result, this segment of the society is currently emerging as a major demand driver for the organic food products market in India.” said Mr. Karan Chechi, Research Director with TechSci Research, a research based global management consulting firm.

Retrieved from: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2020837#ixzz3662uvHR8

Tata Global Beverages, Tata group launch ‘Power of 49’ campaign

Tata Global Beverages, through their social awakening platform Jaago Re, and the Tata group today launched the second phase of the ‘Power of 49’ campaign, aiming to make it one of India’s largest women-centric awareness campaigns in recent times with an intent to reach out to 100 million women.

Power of 49, a Jaago Re initiative for women, was launched in August 2013 with an objective to awaken women, who form 49% of India’s voter base, inspiring them to cast an informed and independent vote and exercise the power they have to make or break a government in this forthcoming election. The campaign was conceptualised from the insight that women constitute 49% of the voter base in India but often do not get their due as they are not seen as a determining factor in elections.

Power Of 49

Power Of 49

The Power of 49 initiative is being supported by the Tata group because it aligns closely with the group’s social agenda. The campaign will see Tata group companies and employees coming together in the spirit of volunteering to play their part in amplifying the impact of the campaign.

As a build-up to the General Elections in 2014, the initiative will use several platforms to communicate the thought behind Power of 49. A new TV advertisement, directed by renowned ad and filmmaker Gouri Shinde was unveiled today around the concept of ‘Kaala Teeka’ (black dot). The Kaala Teeka is a clever play on the Teeka with a hard-hitting message of awakening women to realise their potential as voters. It is observed that while women vote, their family members often influence them in selecting the candidate and party to vote for.

Speaking at the occasion, Sanjiv Sarin, Regional President of South Asia, Tata Global Beverages said, “We are delighted to see Power of 49 grow from a simple thought to a larger initiative with support coming in from the Tata group. Over the years Jaago Re has become a credible platform for catalysing social change.

This time, the campaign seeks to address the underlying reason for women not getting their due from the establishment – the fact that they do not engage sufficiently with the electoral process and do not cast their votes based on an understanding of the stance of candidates on women’s issues. We believe that by inspiring 100 million women to vote based on “Women’s issues” we will be able to catalyse change in this space thus benefiting women and also the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mukund Rajan, Member – Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons said, “The Tata group is delighted to associate with Power of 49, which aims to create awareness among the 100 million women voters of India about their power to bring about change. The group is an equal opportunities employer and believes in promoting gender diversity and inclusiveness, not only in the workplace but also in the communities in which it operates. The coming General Elections represent a great opportunity for the Indian woman to have her voice heard in the political discourse of our country. We believe that women’s empowerment is an important subject for our nation’s progress, and Power of 49 is a small step in that direction, seeking to give women their rightful place in the future of our country.”

Amplifying Power of 49

To deepen its engagement with the online community, Jaago Re website (www.jaagore.com) will feature ‘Push the Pin’, an initiative that will allow users to voice relevant issues from their respective constituency. This interactive and GPS-enabled application is also available through mobile and IVRS platforms (08000780007).

Further, Power of 49 has joined hands with Haiyya, a Mumbai based not-for-profit organisation to create awareness within the Tata group through roadshows and voter registration camps to be held across Tata group companies. This will help to achieve the Group’s aim of 100% voter- readiness.

Retrieved from – http://ibnlive.in.com/news/lok-sabha-polls-tata-global-beverages-tata-group-launch-power-of-49-campaign/451825-81.html

Conservation of biodiversity important for aquaculture: ICAR Director General

Conservation of biodiversity and its applications are essential for growth and sustainability of aquaculture in the coastal region, said Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Director General and Secretary to Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) S. Ayyappan.

Note of caution

Delivering the inaugural address at the three-day National Seminar on Aquatic Toxicology, Biodiversity and Aquaculture that began here on Friday, he pointed out that both Krishna and Guntur districts were ideal for fresh and brackish water aquaculture. At the same time, he cautioned that biodiversity had to be utilised for enhancing the production, especially at a time when the entire globe was facing the threat of global warming.

The seminar has been organised by the Department of Zoology and Aquaculture, Acharya Nagarjuna University. Talking about toxicology and pollution, Dr. Ayyappan said that it was a difficult subject but he urged the professors, research scholars and aqua farmers to implement early diagnostic tools to overcome the problem. There are a number of bio-sensors available, students should take their help, he said.

Dr. Ayyappan said that the fishing industry had grown to the level of nine million tonnes a year of which the contribution of aquaculture stands at five million tonnes.

On focus areas, he said, “We need to focus on sustainability, secondary business and diversified culture.” He said “keeping in mind that our supply chain and cold storage chain are weak and post-harvest loss is huge, we need to think of secondary business such as establishing such chains. And at the same time we also need to add to the number of species being harvested.”

Earlier, addressing the gathering, the Vice-Chancellor of Anu K. Viyanna Rao pointed out that ICAR should think of establishing an aqua research centre in the Krishna-Guntur region as it was the hub of aqua culture in coastal AP.

The Head of the Department, Prof. K. Veeraiah, in his address said that the seminar was organised as the aquaculture sector was facing a crisis, especially with regard to pollution.

Reference – http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/conservation-of-biodiversity-important-for-aquaculture-icar-director-general/article5357869.ece

Tea garden eyes fish boom

Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd (APPL), the second largest tea producer in the country, is aiming to produce 200 tonnes of fish by next year in its gardens in Assam.

The company, which started fisheries in its gardens in 2007, now produces 130 tonnes of fish which is 35 per cent higher than the previous year. The fishponds are spread over 149 hectares in 15 gardens six of which have their own hatcheries.

The average size of a fish pond is 1.5 acres with the largest one spread over six acres. Rohu and katla fish from the carp family are produced in the gardens. Fish are sold at farm gate, local markets and at its kiosks at Hathikuli and Powai gardens in the state.

“Our endeavour is to increase production to over 200 tonnes in the next two years in the ponds and provide quality fish seed to the fish farming community for their yield and revenue maximisation,” Prabir Banerjea, chief operating officer of APPL’s agri business division, told this correspondent.

The fisheries project of the company is the largest in the private sector in the Northeast.

Previously known as Tata Tea, Amalgamated Plantations has its operations spread across 24 tea estates in Assam and north Bengal covering 24,000 hectares and employing approximately 30,000 workers.

APPL production during 2012-13 was 33.54 million kg of tea. The company has diversified into spices, dairies and fisheries. Six multi-locational hatcheries have been operationalised for producing quality fish seed.

“As a testimony to our quality, fish farmers from Nagaon, Sonitpur, Golaghat and Dibrugarh districts have already purchased over 10 lakh spawns and fries in the last few months,” an official said.

“The fisheries project generates significant employment and creates wealth for the local population and provides fresher and therefore more nutritious fish,” he said.

Thorough studies and training were undertaken to implement the fisheries project which proved successful and showed promise. Fish ponds were excavated in areas that have been lying fallow and no ground water is drawn for the fisheries project to ensure that there is no depletion of water table.

The official said based on the success of its hatchery operations, the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture in Bhubaneswar has appointed APPL the authorised multiplier unit for a new variety of rohu to cater to fingerling requirements of the Northeast.

“We are also working in close partnership with local fishing communities in some districts for knowledge transfer of best cultivation and management practices we have adopted,” he said.

In 2012-13, the fisheries project has generated almost one lakh mandays employment in the gardens.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1130815/jsp/northeast/story_17232093.jsp#.Ug2oy9Iqdsl

World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day. It is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action.

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.

Given this enormous imbalance in lifestyles and the resultant devastating effects on the environment, this year’s theme – Think.Eat.Save – encourages you to become more aware of the environmental impact of the food choices you make and empowers you to make informed decisions.

While the planet is struggling to provide us with enough resources to sustain its 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050), FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.

This year’s campaign rallies you to take action from your home and then witness the power of collective decisions you and others have made to reduce food waste, save money, minimise the environmental impact of food production and force food production processes to become more efficient.

If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost. For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.

In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.
Making informed decision therefore means, for example, that you purposefully select foods that have less of an environmental impact, such as organic foods that do not use chemicals in the production process. Choosing to buy locally can also mean that foods are not flown halfway across the world and therefore limit emissions.

So think before you eat and help save our environment! 🙂

Think.Eat.Save – http://www.thinkeatsave.org/

Reference – http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/

Bihar potato farmer sets new world record

A farmer from Sohdih village of Bihar’s Nalanda district has set a new world record in potato production through organic farming this year.
The potato farmer, Rakesh Kumar, has harvested 108.8 tonnes of potato per hecrtare and set a new world record in potato production, Nalanda district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal said Monday.

Last year, a farmer of Darveshpura village in Nalanda had set a world record in potato production through organic farming.

“Rakesh Kumar has created a new world record in potato production through organic farming. It was verified by experts, scientists and officials,” Agrawal told IANS over telephone.
He said several officials and agricultural experts were present in the field at harvest time to verify the claim and record it.

According to him, last March, a potato farmer, Nitish Kumar, harvested 72.9 tonnes of potato per hectare and set a world record.

Till then, the world record was 45 tonnes per hectare, held by farmers in the Netherlands.

Earlier, farmers of the village in Nalanda had created a world record by producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare.

Rakesh Kumar, who is also chairman of the Nalanda Organic Vegetable Growers’ Federation, said he used his learning, inquisitiveness and innovation to deploy high density plantation technique, used for enhancing mango, litchi and guava production, for growing the kufri pukhraj variety of potato to lift the old benchmark to an entirely new level.

“The big-sized potato also helped to make a difference,” an upbeat Rakesh said.

District horticulture officer D.N. Mahto said the achievement occurred because of the use of organic methods. “Once again, the organic method of farming proved superior to other methods of farming,” he said. Mahto said the loam soil of the village is suitable for several crops, including potato. “The new record will certainly go a long way in removing doubts about low production associated with organic farming and encourage other farmers to adopt it,” he said.

Nalanda, the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is already the leading potato producing district in Bihar, with farmers growing the crop on over 27,000 hectares.

Bihar is the third-largest potato producing state, after Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Last year, five farmers here created a world record, producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare.

The state government has decided to promote organic farming in at least one village in each of the state’s 37 districts. It launched an “organic farming promotion program” over a year ago, intended to develop organic ‘grams’ (villages).

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar’s economy, employing 81 percent of its workforce and generating nearly 42 percent of the state’s domestic product, according to the state government.

Retrieved from – http://news.indiamart.com/story/bihar-potato-farmer-sets-new-world-record-175299.html

APPL sponsoring Rituraj Phukan from Assam for International Antarctica Expedition 2013

Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Ltd is sponsoring Mr Rituraj Phukan for the International Antarctic Expedition 2013, which will start from Ushuaia, Argentina, on the 28th February and end on 13th March. He will be the first person ever from Assam & the Northeast on this prestigious expedition which will be led by the legendary Robert Swan, the first man to walk to both the North and South Poles and recipient of the OBE honor from Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and his 2041 team.

Rituraj Phukan

Rituraj Phukan

In recent years, global warming and climate change due to unplanned human development activities have emerged as a major threat to the two polar areas of the globe. Rising temperatures and change in climatic conditions has adversely effected global biodiversity and threatened the existence of innumerable species of plant & animal life on all the seven continents. 2041 was founded by Robert Swan, who has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by the promotion of recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change. 2041’s mission is to build on Swan’s dedication by informing, engaging and inspiring the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, to be sustainable, and to know that now is the time for action in policy development, business generation and future technologies. Currently there is a moratorium in place that bans drilling or mining in Antarctica called the Environmental Protocol, signed by almost all the nations on earth in 1991. This document can be reviewed after the 50-year anniversary in 2041. As the year 2041 quickly approaches, Robert’s goal is to ensure that the young people of today make informed and sustainable decisions for tomorrow.

Since 2003, Robert Swan and 2041 has taken selected people from the corporate, academic & environment fields to Antarctica, to gain firsthand knowledge of the continent’s fragile ecosystem, experience its unique wildlife, the effect of global warming and climate change and how they can be countered by promotion of recycling, renewable energy & sustainability. Rituraj’s selection as one of the thirty persons from among thousands of applicants worldwide reflects the dedication and grassroots based environment & wildlife conservation efforts of Green Guard Nature Organization, a Nagaon based NGO which he have served as the Secretary General since 2001 and their community based initiatives for habitat protection, conflict mitigation, promotion of recycling and tree plantation.