News and Events

kharif sowing has jumped all across the country
It is pleasing news that the kharif sowing has jumped all across the country substancially with total area under all the crops crossed 530 lakh hectares as on 14/7/13 so far, against the 352 lakh hectares in 2012. In Punjab and Haryana, this year expecting the area under Basmati, Maize, Pulses, Oil Seeds and Cotton would increase by 5 to 30%.

Still Kheti Duniyan have not received any major pest attack on the kharif crops.Only minor leaf curl attack is on paddy and sucking pests attack on cotton in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Yellow rust affects wheat crop in Punjab, Haryana & H.P.
The yellow rust (stripe rust) disease has hit various wheat growing areas of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Due to untimely rainfall in recent past, thousands of acres under wheat crop have been affected by yellow rust (stripe rust) in these States. Among all these wheat growing areas, the worst hit was Yamunanagar district of Haryana. The DWR (Directorate of Wheat Research) team has monitored the rust situation in the affected villages of Sadhaura and Jagadhri blocks of Yamunanagar. Besides the unfavorable weather conditions, farmers are also responsible for this situation as these varieties are non-recommendable. The Governments of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have been trying to replace yellow rust-prone wheat varieties, such as PBW 343, PBW 373, WH 711 and HT 2733 with new seed varieties DPW 621-50, HD2967, PBW 550 and DBW17. Next 20 days are very important for the farmers and keeping in view that the inoculum may not spread further, farmers are advised to spray the crop immediately, said Dr Indu Sharma, director, Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal/PAU-HAU and YSP Agri University's Scientists.

Wheat crop again attacked by Yellow Rust and Karnal bunt
Farm experts asked wheat growers in Punjab and Haryana to guard their whear crop againt any fungal diseases like 'Yellow Rust' and 'Karnal Bunt' due to rain and cloudy weather conditions.

"Already the inoculum is well spread in punjab's sub mountainous districts of SBS Nagar, Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur and in Haryana, Ambala, yamunaangar and Panchkula."

Last month, some wheat crop in Punjab & Haryana including Ropar, Nawashahar (in Punjab) and Ambala (in Haryana) were hit by the fungal disease which attacks leaves of wheat crop by forming yellow stripes and affects their photosynthesis activity that causes shrivelling of grain size. The PAU and HAU said apart from yellow rust development, the current weather can also cause Karnal Bunt in wheat, which adversely affects the grain quality.

Karnal Bunt is a fungal disease and it turns some part to wheat grain blackish and brittle. Rains continued to lash many places in Punjab & Haryana for the third day in the past week.

Punjab had achieved highest wheat production of 179.82 lakh tonne in 2012-13 season. The Yellow Rust disease has recently been found in some more wheat fields of the Punjab villages namely Mohan Majra, Phasemund, Fatehgarh veeran, Shergarh & Sultanpur.

Aphid (Kala Tela) started the attack on the WHEAT crop, which was sown in December / January.
Due to cold and humidity, it is ideal weather for the growth of Aphid. If there is a mild attack of Aphid, experts fear the reduction of production 10-15%. Though, at present it is not ALARMING SITUATION but farmers must take care of the Wheat Crop.

‘Indigenous Bt cotton can no more be used for cultivation’

An indigenous Bt cotton variety Bt Bikaneri Narma developed through a collaborative effort can no more be used for cultivation. A probe conducted by a five-member team, headed by Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice-Chancellor S.K. Sopory has termed the development of the strain ‘invalid’. The indigenous cotton variety was jointly developed by the National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, New Delhi ; the Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur and the University of Agricultural Sciences , Dharwad. Its commercial cultivation began in 2009 on 8,400 hectares. However, farmers and government seed agencies companies complained that its performance and yield did not match expectations. Following this, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research stopped seed multiplication and commercialisation before ordering a probe. All data obtained from bio-safety studies and field trials of the indigenous Bt cotton, termed BNBt, appear to have been conducted with material that contained an impure genetic material. The problem was that the genetic material obtained from a Canadian research scientist I. Altosaar of Ottawa got contaminated with genetic materials, particularly that of MON531. Therefore, new trials would have to conducted and regulatory process should be gone through afresh if ICAR need to commericialise the indigenous cotton, the probe panel said. According to official sources, the genetic material could no longer be used after the panel’s finding. The National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology has no control over the gene and it would be unethical to continue using it. Stating that the project was poor planned and implemented with inappropriate distribution of work elements, the report by the panel said the Dharwad varsity, where the trials were conducted, lacked technical expertise. The panel said that the presence of MON 531 was extensive and complete character of the desi variety was yet to be obtained fully. Data available only showed reorganisation of the DNA of the foreign gene material and, therefore, more events with the new variety would have to be obtained. There seemed to be an extreme hurry to come up with a public sector Bt cotton and commercial seed production procedures were not followed, the Sopory Committee charged, adding that two members of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee were part of the team that developed the indigenous variety, which was inappropriate. Also, the Canadian scientist’s role in providing the gene through an agreement was not acknowledged. The panel also found fault with various approaches of the team as well as ICAR.

Nuziveedu Seeds bags award
Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd has been conferred with BioAgri company of the year Award 2012 at the 10th Annual Biospectrum-ABLE Awards. Ramesh Viswanathan, Chief Operating Officer, Nuziveedu Seeds, received the award in Bangalore . This is the fourth time Nuziveedu Seeds has won this award consecutively for the third time. The company offers more than 340 hybrid seeds and varieties of 30 field crops and vegetables through its sales and distribution network in 17 States across India .

India is world's biggest rice exporter in 2012: FAO
India has emerged as the world’s biggest exporter of rice piping traditional leader Thailand by exporting almost nine million tonnes of rice in 2012, a latest report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said. However, going forward in 2013, the trend might be difficult to sustain as Thailand is once again pushing to expand its exports by lowering rates in the international markets. India allowed its private traders to export rice in 2011 lifting a more than two year-long ban on exports. The move enabled private traders to push Indian rice in traditional as well as new markets at a price which was much lower than the prevailing rates, thereby leading to a surge in exports. FAO also said India would have record exportable cereal surplus of almost 15.7 million tonnes in 2012-13, which will include 7.7 million tonnes of rice, about five million tonnes of wheat and three million tonnes of corn. In the 2011-12 crop marketing season that ended in July, India had an all-time high wheat production of 94 million tonnes, rice output of 104 million tonnes and corn (maize) production of almost 16.22 million tonnes. However, much of this has not been exported as the government has purchased almost all the rice and wheat, leaving little surplus for private exporters to sell. Lately, government has also started liquidating its inventories to create more space for the new harvest. It has approved export of two million tonnes of wheat and another 2.5 million tonnes is in the pipeline. FAO said that planting of wheat and rice for the rabi season spring harvest is almost completed. Rainfall has been deficient to scanty in the producing states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana in the north west , Bihar and West Bengal in the north east and Karnataka in the south, the agency wrote. Most of the wheat and paddy rice is irrigated this season, and abundant rains in the second part of the monsoon season helped replenish water reserves for irrigation and boost soil moisture, according to the report.

‘Genetically enhanced seeds to get carbon credits’
The United Nations-overseen emissions-market regulator has approved a system of rules that will allow farmers using genetically improved seeds to claim carbon offset credits, according to Arcadia Biosciences Inc. Nitrogen-efficient seed allows farmers to maintain high crop yields while using less fertiliser, the Davis , California- based agricultural-technology company said today in a statement. Nitrogen is a large source of agricultural emissions because less than half the volume applied to fields globally is used by plants, with most of the rest entering water systems or converting into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas almost 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the company said. There are significant opportunities for agriculture to play a central role in the cost-effective mitigation of climate change, Eric Rey, President of Arcadia Biosciences, said in the statement. “We are particularly pleased with the approval of this new methodology because it is the first to recognise the huge opportunity for genetic improvements to mitigate climate change and create value at multiple levels.” The rules approved by the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board in Bonn , known as a methodology, will potentially add to supply of credits in a market that’s plunged 92 per cent in the past year because of a glut. The CDM, formed as part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, is the largest carbon offset market, having generated $215 billion in investment for greenhouse gas mitigation projects around the world, Arcadia said.

UBI plans for ailing State tea sector
United Bank of India (UBI) is now working on new plans for the ailing tea sector in Assam . “We had a detailed discussion on the current tea scenario of the State and accordingly, we are working on introducing new schemes which include cash management, especially for the tea garden labourers and extending credit to the tea gardens,” Bhaskar Sen, Chairman & Managing Director of UBI, told this correspondent today. He, however, said that it would require some time for executing the plans. Saying UBI has been playing a key role in the growth of the tea sector, he informed that the bank had disbursed credit to the tune of Rs 400 crore so far to 126 gardens in Assam . Asked about his roadmap for the North-east, the UBI chief revealed that he is planning to open new branches to cover unbanked areas, besides opening more ATMs to reduce the pressure on branches. “In Assam , we have 187 branches so far and we are planning to expand our presence here by adding three new branches by this fiscal-end. Moreover, around 447 new ATMs will be opened across the country soon,” Sen said before ending his three-day visit to the North-east. The volume of business of UBI has been growing at a healthy rate for the last couple of years in Assam . According to available data, the total volume of business of the bank stands at over Rs 10,000 crore in the State, of which advance is Rs 3,360 crore. On the other hand, lending to the agriculture sector is Rs 1,076 crore, which is also above the national average. Sen further informed that the bank would continue to focus on Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector considering its high growth potential. Replying to a question about weak financial health of the banks, he admitted that several macro-economic factors are responsible for this. “There is no appetite for credit and asset quality of the banks is deteriorating. I hope the situation will improve gradually,” he said.

Sugar industry gets leeway in levy quota sale
The government will soon give greater freedom to the sugar industry in offloading the unsold quantity of subsidised sugar it’s mandated to supply for state-run welfare programmes, food minister KV Thomas said. The food ministry would soon allow mills and co-operatives to offload the unsold quantity of the subsidised sugar quota—known as levy quota—in the open market if it’s not lifted by state-run agencies within six months. Currently, mills and co-operatives are required to keep the unsold levy stocks for two years before they are allowed to offload these in the open market. The food ministry will also soon notify the revised price of the subsidised sugar, known as the levy quota, for the marketing year that started October 1, the minister said. Currently, mills are required to sell 10% of their output to the government at slightly more than R19 a kg. The industry says the levy sugar price accounts for just around 70% of its cost of production, and dents the balance sheets of mills. As the Centre has raised the benchmark price of cane by 17% to R170 per quintal for 2012-13, at least 21-22% hike in the levy sugar rate is expected, said a senior industry executive. “I have noted your concern regarding the delay in the notification of levy sugar prices for the year 2012-13. I have directed the Department of Food and Public Distribution to expedite the notification and ensure that the mills don’t suffer on this account. Notification regarding the decision of carry forward of levy sugar will also be issued soon,” Thomas said, addressing the annual general meeting of the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories. “This would further improve liquidity in the cash-strapped sector,” said National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories managing director Vinay Kumar. Thomas also said the government will implement most of the recommendations of the Rangarajan panel for shedding state control over the sugar sector. The panel, set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January, suggested in October freedom to mills from the levy obligation and also pitched for the scrapping of the release order mechanism through which the government controls sugar sales in the open market.

Probe blames three scientists for US gene shock in Desi Bt cotton
An inquiry committee has blamed then National Research Centre for Plant Biology director P Ananda Kumar, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS, Dharwad) scientist I S Kategari and then Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR, Nagpur) director B M Khadi for the situation that arose after a gene patented by American multinational Monsanto had been found in the Bikaneri Nerma Bt cotton (BNBt), described as Desi Bt cotton and commercialised by CICR. After the story had been first reported by The Indian Express in December, the government appointed the panel led by JNU vice chancellor S K Sopory and including Punjab Agriculture University VC B S Dhillon, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology deputy director R V Sonti, ICAR secretary Rajiv Meharshi and its additional director general N Gopalakrishnan. The panel’s report says the three scientists erred not only by not performing their roles as scientists but also on administrative counts. “There were indications, prior to commercial release, that BNBt was contaminated with the Monsanto gene (MON531). If corrective measures had been taken at that time by those involved in development and commercialisation of BNBt, the situation that has now arisen could have been avoided,” the panel observes. “Commercial seed production procedure was not followed even though there is a well-established procedure in this regard. For example, had the breeders/seed production scientists been more careful in monitoring, the segregation/admixture for morphological traits like petal and pollen colour could have been easily identified and red flags raised.” It says Kumar should have been more active in engaging himself with the activities at UAS. “He should have been careful at the time of project-writing and not allotted molecular biology work to Kategari. He should also have ensured the development of event specific markers for BNBt.” About Khadi, it says he had maintained he had no prior idea of the Monsanto gene’s presence but a letter he wrote this year to the ICAR director general indicates the contrary. “(In) May 2008, Dr K R Kranthi, HOD, plant protection, CICR, informed me regarding the Mon-531 contamination/presence in the seeds tested,” Khadi wrote. The panel says, “This indicates that Khadi was aware of the problem, at least in May 2008. Crucially, this was before actual commercialisation of BNBt.” About Kategari, it notes that while he claimed he didn’t have the expertise to distinguish between Monsanto and Desi events, the project proposal mentions him as the person responsible for molecular analysis of transgenics. The panel notes: “In all likelihood, the contamination... occurred at UAS. This appears to have occurred not only before Katageri left for USA in October 2005, but even before Khadi moved to CICR in May 2005 as the seeds that Khadi took with him were already contaminated with Monsanto gene.” And while observing that it is difficult to say whether the “contamination” was accidental or deliberate, the panel says, “assuming only accidental contamination cannot account for what has happened.”

ITA to hold Darjeeling tea auction for charity
The Indian Tea Association (ITA), the apex body of North Indian tea growers, is planning to hold a charity tea auction on December 20 at Darjeeling . The auction will be held through ITA’s Darjeeling branch, Darjeeling Indian Tea Association (DITA), on the inaugural day of the second Darjeeling Tea & Tourism Festival being organised by Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) from December 20, according to an ITA release. At the charity auction, seven lots of whole leaf Darjeeling tea from seven famous valleys/sub-districts of Darjeeling district will be offered for sale.

ICAR plans to set up disaster management centre in TN
Indian Council of Agricultural Research is considering setting up a Centre for Disaster Management in Tamil Nadu, a top official said today. The major challenges being faced by Tamil Nadu, which was contributing enormously to the agricultural development of the country and having large rainfed area were erratic monsoon and the serious effect of Tsunami, Dr S. Ayyappan, Director General, ICAR, said delivering his address to the 33rd convocation of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here. Priority area in Tamil Nadu should be enhancing input efficiency, reducing production cost, managing abiotic and biotic stresses, promoting farm mechanisation and post harvest management, he said. Capital investment in agriculture as a percentage of the GDP has been stagnating at around 14 per cent in recent years, he said. The real challenge was to enhance investment in the sector both by public and private sector in a sustained way. “If agriculture fails, nothing else can succeed. If agriculture succeeds, every other sector also becomes successful,” he said.