Current Affairs - Agriculture & Allied Sector
Promotion Of Agroforestry In Silk Sector
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on 7th March 2021 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Silk Board under the Ministry of Textiles on a convergence model for the implementation of Agroforestry in the silk sector under the ongoing Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme.
- To incentivize the farmers to take up sericulture based Agroforestry models.
- This linkage will add another dimension to agroforestry for faster returns to the growers as well as support the production of the range of silks that India is famous for.
About Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF)
- The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW) has been implementing the Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) since 2016-17 as part of the recommendation of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014. At present, the scheme is being implemented in 20 States and 2 UTs.
- Aim of SMAF Scheme: SMAF aims to encourage farmers to plant multi-purpose trees together with the agriculture crops for climate resilience and an additional source of income to the farmers, as well as enhanced feedstock to inter alia wood-based and herbal industry.
- There is a concerted effort to include medicinal, fruits, fodder, tree-borne oilseeds, lac host etc. in addition to the longer rotation timber species.
SMAF Scheme & Sericulture
- The initiative of formalizing the collaboration in the sericulture sector is especially targeted for augmentation of sericulture host plants e.g. Mulberry, Asan, Arjuna, Som, Soalu, Kesseru, Bada Kesseru, Phanat, etc. to be cultivated both as block plantations and border or peripheral plantations on farmlands.
- Benefits to Farmers: Planting sericulture based tree species on the farm bunds and rearing silkworms has the potential of creating additional income opportunities for farmers besides their regular source of income from agriculture activities.
Niti Aayog Releases Draft Model Act On Land Titles
NITI Aayog has released the draft model Act and rules for states for regulation on conclusive land titling.
- To reduce litigations and ease the land acquisition process for infrastructure projects.
- It provides state governments power to order for establishment, administration and management of a system of title registration of immovable properties.
- Under the model Act, the land dispute resolution officer and land title appellate tribunal are one-shot institutions which will fade away as the work reduces.
- Also, after three years of its notification, the register of title attains conclusivity without any external action. Conclusive land titles are guaranteed by the state for correctness and entail provision for compensation by the state in case of any dispute.
- Any person aggrieved by an entry in the Record of Titles may file an objection before the Title Registration Officer within three years from the date of such notification.
- Following this, the Title Registration Officer shall make an entry to that effect in Register of Titles and in the Register of Disputes and refer the case to the land dispute resolution officer.
- A party aggrieved with an order of the land dispute resolution officer may file an appeal before the Land Titling Appellate Tribunal within 30 days of passing of such an order.
- A special bench of High court shall be designated to deal with appeals against the orders passed by the Land Titling Appellate Tribunal.
- Land title is a document that determines the ownership of land or an immovable property.Having a clear land title protects the rights of the title holder against other claims made by anyone else to the property.
- In India, land ownership is determined through various records such as sale deeds that are registered, property tax documents, government survey records, etc.
- The current system of land records was inherited from the Zamindari system of pre-independence days. Currently, the rules for title of land, is provided by the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
- The primary law that regulates the registration of land related documents is Registration Act, 1908.
Issues with Land Title in India
Land Ownership in India is Presumptive
- In India, land ownership is primarily established through a registered sale deed (a record of the property transaction between the buyer and seller).
- Other documents used to establish ownership include the record of rights (document with details of the property), property tax receipts, and survey documents.
- However, these documents are not a government guaranteed title to the property, but only a record of the transfer of property.
- Therefore, land ownership in India, as determined by such sale deeds, is presumptive in nature, and subject to challenge.
Land Records are Poorly Maintained
- Land records consist of various types of information (property maps, sale deeds) and are maintained across different departments at the district or village level.
- These departments work in silos, and the data across departments is not updated properly.Hence, discrepancies are often noted in land records.
- Therefore, in several records, the property documents do not match the position on the ground.
- Poor land records also affect future property transactions. It becomes difficult and cumbersome to access land records when data is spread across departments and has not been updated.
- One has to go back several years of documents, including manual records, to find any ownership claims on a piece of property.Such a process is inefficient and causes time delays.
Registration of Property is not Mandatory for all Transactions
- Under the Registration Act, 1908, registration of property is not mandatory for all transaction
- These include acquisition of land by the government, court decrees, land orders, heirship partitions, and property that is, leased for less than one year.
- Since heirship partitions do not require registration, several property divisions are not recorded, and hence, do not correctly reflect who is in possession of the property.
- This often leads to litigation related to rightful owner among heirs.
Government Initiative to Improve the System of Land Records
- Around 1988-89, the central government started the Computerisation of Land Records scheme to computerise all land records. Other schemes to improve land records and administration that were introduced around the same time were the Strengthening of Revenue Administration and the Updating of Land Records schemes.
- In 2008, all these schemes were merged into a centrally sponsored scheme, the National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP).
- The scheme has now been renamed as the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP) and is a part of the Digital India initiative.
- The scheme was changed into a Central Sector Scheme in April 2016.
While conclusive titling has been suggested as the solution to solve the problem around land records in India, several steps need to be completed before the government starts giving out guaranteed land titles.
These steps include-
- amending laws across centre and states;
- administrative changes at the state level that streamline the collection and maintenance of land data; and
- ensuring that all data is regularly updated and easily accessible (on a digital platform).
Vaibhav Summit On Precision Agriculture
- On 5th October, 2020, Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR) organized a session on “Sensors and Sensing for Precision Agriculture” as a part of the Vaishwik Bhartiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) Summit 2020.
- It aims at strengthening the S&T base for providing the impetus to endeavour of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.
- The initiative sought to bring together the thought process, practices, R&D culture of Overseas and Indian scientists/academicians and develop a road map for translational research/academic culture for tangible output.
- A total of 18 verticals have been identified for deliberation of which “Agro-economy and Food Security” deals directly with agriculture with several horizontals.
- The horizontal on “Precision Agriculture” aims at discussing recent advances in the field on sensors, remote sensing, deep learning, artificial intelligence and IoT for monitoring and quantification of soil, plant and environment to enhance farm productivity with increased input use efficiency and environmental sustainability.
- It can be defined as a whole-farm management strategy that utilises information technology and that the aim of management is to improve production and minimise environmental impact.
- It also refers to the farming system which in modern agriculture may include the supply chain from the farm gate to the consumer.
Need for PA in India
- The decline in the total productivity, diminishing and degrading natural resources, stagnating farm incomes, lack of eco-regional approach, declining and fragmented land holdings, trade liberalization on agriculture, limited employment opportunities in non-farm sector, and global climatic variation have become major concerns in agricultural growth and development.
- Therefore, the use of newly emerged technology adoption is seen as one key to increase agriculture productivity in the future.
- Enhances agricultural productivity and prevents soil degradation in cultivable land resulting in sustained agricultural development.
- Help reducing excessive chemical usage in crop production.
- Allow efficient use of water resources.
- Applying sensing devices throughout the field will allow a continuous monitoring of the chosen parameters and offers real-time data to help inform decisions.
- Provides opportunities for better resource management and hence reduce wastage of resources.
Technology related Challenges
- Precision farming requires some degree of competence in the use of software and hardware.Illiteracy among Indian farmers reduces technology adoption and trial possibilities.
- The lack of awareness and absence of dedicated education of precision agriculture among farming communities is major obstacle for its adoption.
- Lack of local technical expertise and assistance is another obstacle for precision agriculture.
Economy related Challenges
- Indianagricultureispredominantlyfeaturedassmallandmarginallandholdings, which is major constraint in adoption of precision agriculture.
- It’s quite difficult and impractical to expect this segment to adopt high cost involvement technologies used in precision farming.
- Further, PA involves highinitial cost which includes many expensive machine sand tools which are beyond the economic reach of small and marginal farmers.
Social and Behavioral related Challenges
- Indian farming is predominated by age old farming practices.
- The same agriculture practices are being carried out from generations. Resistance and rigidity are two major hurdles in adoption of precision farming.
The policy approach to promote precision agriculture at farm level-
- Identify the niche areas for the promotion of crop specific precision farming.
- Creation of multidisciplinary teams involving agricultural scientists in various fields, engineers, manufacturers and economists to study the overall scope of precision agriculture.
- Provide complete technical backup support to the farmers to develop pilots or models, which can be replicated on a large scale.
- Pilot study should be conducted on farmers’fields to show the results of precision agriculture implementation.
- Evolve policy for efficient technology transfer and ensure complete end to end technical support to farmers.
Agricultural Reform Bills
- On 20th September, 2020, Rajya Sabha passed two farm reforms Bills- Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
About the Bills
Bill on Agriculture Market
Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce(Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
- To create an ecosystem where farmers and traders enjoy the freedom to sell and purchase farm produce outside registered mandis under state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).
- To promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade of farmers' produce.
- To reduce marketing/transportation costs and help farmers in getting better prices.
- To provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading.
- Ends the monopoly of traders.
- Creating competition among buyers.
- Yields better returns to farmers and raises incomes.
- Farm produce can move freely from surplus to deficit regions.
- Creates national market; high intimidation cost of mandis will end.
- Consumer gets better and cheaper products.
Reasons for Opposition
- States will lose revenue as they won't be able to collect 'mandi fees' if farmers sell their produce outside registered APMC markets.
- What happens to 'commission agents' in states if entire farm trade moves out of mandis?
- It may eventually end the minimum support price(MSP) based procurement system.
- Electronic trading like in e-National Agriculture Market(e-NAM) uses physical 'mandi' structure. It will hamper the functionality and usefulness ofthe electronic trading portal.
Bill on Contract Farming
The Farmer (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
- Farmers can enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.
- Marginal and small farmers, with land less than five hectares, to gain via aggregation and contract (Marginal and small farmers account for 86% of total farmers in India).
- To transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.
- To enable farmers to access modern tech and get better inputs.
- To reduce cost of marketing and boost farmer's income.
- Farmers can engage in direct marketing by eliminating intermediaries for full price realization.
- Effective dispute resolution mechanism with redressal timelines.
- Farmers will have assured price before sowing.
- Transfers market risk from farmer to sponsor.
- Gives farmers access to high quality seeds, fertilisers, pesticides.
- Will attract private investment in farming and link farms to global markets.
Reasons for Opposition
- Farmers in contract farming arrangements will be the weaker players in terms of their ability to negotiate what they need.
- The sponsors may not like to deal with a multitude of small and marginal farmers.
- Being big private companies, exporters, wholesalers and processors, the sponsors will have an edge in disputes.
Government’s Stand over the Bills
- Accelerating Agricultural Growth:It will accelerate agricultural growth through private sector investment in building agricultural infrastructure and supply chains for Indian farm produce in national and global markets.
- Strengthening Economy:The bills are aimed at creating employment opportunities and strengthening the economy.
High Level Group On Agricultural Exports
- On 31st July, 2020, the High Level Group (HLEG) on Agricultural Exports set up by the Fifteenth Finance Commission submitted its report to the Commission.
- The HLEG was set up in February, 2020 under the Chairmanship of Sanjiv Puri (ITC Chairman) to recommend measurable performance incentives for states to encourage agricultural exports and to promote crops to enable high import substitution.
- To assess export & import substitution opportunities for Indian agricultural products in the changing international trade scenario.
- To recommend strategies and measures to increase farm productivity, enable higher value addition, ensure waste reduction, strengthen logistics infrastructure, etc.
- To identify the impediments for private sector investments along the agricultural value chain and suggest policy measures and reforms.
- To suggest appropriate performance-based incentives to the state governments for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26, to accelerate reforms in the agriculture sector.
- India’s agricultural export has the potential to grow from USD 40 billion to USD 70 billion in a few years.
- The estimated investment in agricultural export could be in the tune to USD 8-10 billion across inputs, infrastructure, processing and demand enablers.
- Additional exports are likely to create an estimated 7-10 million jobs.
- It will lead to higher farm productivity and farmer income.
Crop Value Chains
- It recommended a greater focus on 22 crop value chainswith a demand driven approach.
- It has also suggested solving Value Chain Clusters (VCC) holistically with focus on value addition and performance-based incentives to the state governments for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26, to accelerate reforms in the agriculture sector.
State-led Export Plan
- It recommended a State-led Export Plan - a business plan for a crop value chain cluster that will lay out the opportunity, initiatives and investment required to meet the desired value chain export aspiration.
- These plans will be action-oriented, time-bound and outcome-focused.
- For the success of the State-led Export Plan, the following factors need to be considered:
- Plans should be collaboratively prepared with private sector players and Commodity Boards.
- Leveraging of state plan guide and value chain deep dives.
- Institutional governance should be promoted across state and centre.
- Funding through convergence of existing schemes, Finance Commission allocation and private sector investment.
Centre should be an Enabler
- As per the suggestions of the group, the Centre should enable state-led plans and institutional governance should be promoted across states and Centre.
- Thus, robust institutional mechanisms need to be enforced to fund and support implementation.
Pivotal Role of Private Sector
- The HELG pushed for private sector players to have a pivotal role in ensuring demand orientation, feasible project plans and in providing funds for technology, based on business case and for creating urgency and discipline for project implementation.
15th Finance Commission
Genetically Modified Seeds Debate
- Recently, Shetkari Sanghatana — the farmers’ union — announced fresh plans in its agitation for use of genetically modified seeds
- In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved.
What is the movement about?
- The Sanghatana has announced that this year they are going to undertake large-scale sowing of unapproved GM crops like maize, Ht Bt cotton, soyabean and brinjal across Maharashtra.
- Farmers who plant such variants will put up boards on their fields proclaiming the GM nature of their crop.
- This action will draw attention to the need for introduction of the latest technology in the fields.
- Farmers will not be deterred by any action taken against them by the authorities.
What are genetically modified seeds?
- Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents.
- Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects.
- The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
What is the legal position of genetically modified crops in India?
- In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
- In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95 per cent of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.
- Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1989.
Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
Ht Bt, on the other, cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
In DMH-11 mustard, developed by Deepak Pental and colleague in the South Campus of University of Delhi, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.
Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?
- In the case of cotton, farmers cite the high cost of weeding, which goes down considerably if they grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds.
- Brinjal growers in Haryana have rooted for Bt brinjal as it reduces the cost of production by cutting down on the use of pesticides.
- Unauthorised crops are widely used. Industry estimates say that of the 4-4.5 crore packets (each weighing 400 gm) of cotton sold in the country, 50 lakh are of the unapproved Ht Bt cotton.
- Haryana has reported farmers growing Bt brinjal in pockets which had caused a major agitation there.
- In June, 2029, in a movement led by Shetkari Sanghatana in Akola district of Maharashtra, more than 1,000 farmers defied the government and sowed Ht Bt cotton.
- Environmentalists argue that the long-lasting effect of GM crops is yet to be studied and thus they should not be released commercially.
Banning Use Of TB Drug On Crops
- Recently, the Registration Committee (RC) under the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) recommended banning the use of antibiotics streptomycin and tetracycline on various crops.
Need for Ban
- Misuse on Various Crops: Although streptocycline use is allowed for eight crops by the CIBRC, it was found to be used on many more crops in practice across the country.
- Indiscriminate Use: In the assessment carried out in agricultural farms of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, CSE had found that streptocycline, a 90:10 combination of streptomycin and tetracycline, was being routinely and indiscriminately used by farmers in high doses in crops.
- Antibiotic Resistance: Exposure to antibiotics can lead to development of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals.
- The committee recommended a complete ban with immediate effect on crops where other options were available for bacterial disease control.
- The final report accepted the recommendation of the sub-committee on production, sale and use of streptomycin sulphate (9 percent) and tetracycline hydrochloride (1 per cent).
- It recommended that streptomycin and tetracycline use be phased out by 2022-end for crops for which no alternatives were available.
- Till then, the antibiotics could be used on crops strictly as per the label claim.
- Antibiotics should not be used as pesticides for crops, but preserved for treatment of bacterial infections in humans.
- It also acknowledged that diseases in crops can be managed by using integrated pest management and other practices.
- With this ban / phase-out, misuse of streptomycin and tetracycline in crops for which it was not approved will be checked.
- This will also help plug gaps such as registering them in the name of pesticides or using them in an unregulatory fashion in the absence of prescription.
Integrated Pest Management
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.
- Also known as integrated pest control (IPC) is a broad-based approach that integrates practices for economic control of pests.
- IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL).
- IPM is used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, human habitations, preventive conservation and general pest control, including structural pest management, turf pest management and ornamental pest management.
An IPM system is designed around six basic components-
- Monitoring: This includes regular site inspections and trapping to determine the types and infestation levels of pests at each site.
- Record-Keeping: A record-keeping system is essential to establish trends and patterns in pest outbreaks. Information recorded at every inspection or treatment should include pest identification, population size, distribution, recommendations for future prevention, and complete information on the treatment action.
- Action Levels: Pests are virtually never eradicated. An action level is the population size which requires remedial action for human health, economic, or aesthetic reasons.
- Prevention: Preventive measures must be incorporated into the existing structures and designs for new structures. Prevention is and should be the primary means of pest control in an IPM program.
- Tactics Criteria: Under IPM, chemicals should be used only as a last resort only, but when used, the least-toxic materials should be chosen, and applied to minimize exposure to humans and all non-target organisms.
- Evaluation: A regular evaluation program is essential to determine the success of the pest management strategies.
Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee
It was set up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in the year 1970 to regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides.
It advises the Central Government and State Governments on technical matters arising out of the administration of Insecticides Act and to carry out the other functions assigned to the Board by or under Insecticides rules.
To import or manufacture any insecticide, registration is required at the Registration Committee.
Biofortified Carrot Variety
- Madhuban Gajar, a biofortified carrot variety with high β-carotene and iron content developed by Shri Vallabhhai Vasrambhai Marvaniya, a farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat is benefitting more than 150 local farmers in the area.
- The variety is being cultivated in more than 1000 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh during the last three years.
- National Innovation Foundation (NIF), India an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology conducted validation trials for this variety at Rajasthan Agricultural Research Institute (RARI), Jaipur, between 2016 and 2017.
- In the trials, it was found that Madhuban Gajar carrot variety possesses a significantly higher root yield (74.2 t/ha) and plant biomass (275 gm per plant) as compared to check variety.
About Madhuban Gajar
- It is a highly nutritious carrot variety developed through the selection method with higher β-carotene content (277.75 mg/kg) and iron content (276.7 mg/kg) dry basis and is used for various value-added products like carrot chips, juices, and pickles.
- Among all the varieties tested, beta-carotene and iron content were found to be superior.
National Innovation Foundation (NIF)
New Features Added To E-NAM
- On 2nd April, 2020, the Centre launched new features on the electronic national agriculture market (e-NAM) platform to make it more convenient for farmers to sell their produce at warehouses and collection centres set up by farmer producer organisations (FPOs).
- The features have been launched at the time when there is a critical need to decongest mandis to effectively fight against COVID-19.
- To strengthen agriculture marketing by farmers across the country.
Electronic-Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (e-NWRs) Module
- Warehouse (Registered with WDRA) trading module with payment feature is to enable small & marginal famers to directly trade their stored produce from selected WDRA registered warehouses which are declared deemed market by the State.
- Farmers will be able to place their produce in WDRA accredited warehouses.
Benefits of eNWRs integration with e-NAM
- Depositor can save the Logistics expenses and will have better income.
- Farmers can sell the produce across the Nation to get better Price and at the same time can save himself from hassle of mandi.
- Farmers will be able to place their produce in WDRA accredited warehouses avail the benefit of pledge loan if required.
- Price stabilization by matching supply and demand through time and place utility.
Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO) Trading Module
- FPO trading module will help to enable FPOs to upload their produce from their premise/ collection centres for bidding.
- FPOs have the option for delivery of produce either from their premises or by bringing to mandi premise after successful bidding.
- Facility provided to FPO to upload assaying report / photo of their produce from their premise to enable traders to visualise the produce before bidding.
Benefits of FPO trading module
- This will not only decongest the mandis but also reduce the hassle of FPOs to deal with mandis.
- This will help FPOs by reducing transaction costs (Transportation) and enhancing their bargaining power.
- Facilitates FPOs to avail online payment facility with ease of doing business.
- As s a quantum response to logistic need by traders, provision has been made for linking large logistic aggregator platforms, which will provide choices to users.
- Traders would be able to use the link to navigate to the logistics provider’s website and select appropriate services.
Benefits of Logistic Module
- Will help in seamless transportation of agri produce.
- Will promote inter-State trade under e-NAM by providing online transport facilities for distant buyers.
National Agriculture Market (eNAM)
- Launched in 2016, eNAM is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
- Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing eNAM under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare.
- SFAC through open tender selected Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd / Ikisan Division as Strategic Partner (SP) to develop, operate and maintain the NAM e-platform.
- To promote uniformity in agriculture marketing by streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets.
- Removing information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promoting real time price discovery based on actual demand and supply.
- It allows states to have their own agri-marketing platforms that can be linked with NAM.
- The highlight of the scheme is the single point levy of market fees, i.e. on the first wholesale purchase from the farmer.
- The provision lets farmers to showcase their produce in nearby markets and facilitate traders from anywhere to quote price.
- Under the scheme, a provision of Soil Testing Laboratories in or near the selected mandi (market) has been set up. This will help visiting farmers access the facility in the mandi itself.
- They can sell products without the interference of any brokers or middlemen thereby making competitive returns out of their investment.
- Traders will be able to do secondary trading from one APMC to another one anywhere in India.
- Local traders can get access to the larger national market for secondary trading.
Buyers, Processers & Exporters
- Buyers like large retailers, processors or exporters will be able to source commodities from any mandi in India thereby reducing the inter-mediation cost.
- Their physical presence and dependence on intermediaries will not be needed.
- NAM will increase the number of traders and the competition among them increases. This translates into stable prices and availability to the consumers.
- There will be a reduction in bookkeeping and reporting system as it will be generated automatically.
- Monitoring and regulation of traders and commission agents become easy.
- Transparency in the process eliminates the scope of manipulation of tendering/auctioning process.
- Market allocation fee will increase due to an accounting of all transactions taking place in the market.
- It will reduce the manpower requirements as the tendering/auctioning process is carried out electronically.
- With one license for the entire state and single point levy, an entire state becomes a market and the market fragmentation within the same state gets abolished.
- It will improve the supply chain of commodities and reduces wastages.
New Bio Fortified Wheat Variety
- Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028, which shows high protein content.
- The wheat variety MACS 4028 has been notified by the Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards, Notification and Release of Varieties for Agricultural Crops (CVRC) for timely sown, rainfed condition of Peninsular Zone, comprising Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also tagged this variety under the Biofortified category during the year 2019.
- In the peninsular zone of India ( for ex. Maharashtra and Karnataka states), wheat cultivation is majorly done under rainfed and limited irrigation conditions.
- Under such conditions, the crop experiences moisture stress. Hence, there is a high demand for drought-tolerant varieties.
About MACS 4028
- It is a semi-dwarf variety, which matures in 102 days.
- The wheat variety has a high protein content of about 14.7%.
- It has better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability.
- It has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectare.
- The new variety has shown the superior and stable yielding ability It is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite
- The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to alleviate malnutrition in a sustainable way.
- An endeavor to tackle the hidden hunger in the rural areas of India is being continued using traditional plant breeding approach to achieve the Vision 2022 “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”, the National Nutrition Strategy.
National Nutrition Strategy
Objectives and targets
Key strategic areas of action
Durum wheat (Triticum durum L.)
- Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.
- The main underlying assumption for this strategy holds that there can be an increase in nutrient accumulation to plants and, subsequently, to humans, without changing consumption patterns of traditional crop staples.
Examples of biofortification-
- iron-biofortification of rice, beans, sweet potato, cassava and legumes;
- zinc-biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato and maize;
- provitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of sweet potato, maize and cassava; and
- amino acid and protein-biofortification of sourghum and cassava
Biofortification can be achieved in three ways-
- Conventional biofortification: Selecting plants which naturally contain higher amounts of a micronutrient of interest and cross‐breeding using conventional methods to produce staple crops with desirable nutrient and agronomic traits.
- Agronomic biofortification: Use of micronutrient‐rich fertilisers or sprays which are temporarily taken up by the edible portion of the crop.
- Transgenic biofortification: Inserting genes needed for the accumulation of a micronutrient which would not otherwise exist in that particular crop (either at all, or in a bioavailable form).
Difference with Food Fortification
- Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops.
- Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement and/or limited.
- Biofortified crops offer a sustainable and long-term solution in providing micronutrients-rich crops to people.
- Furthermore, biofortified crops with increased bioavailable concentrations of essential micronutrients are deployed to consumers through traditional practices used by agriculture and food trade which therefore provides a feasible way of reaching undernourished and low income group families with limited access to diverse diets, supplements, and fortified foods.
- From an economic viewpoint, biofortification is a one-time investment and offers a cost-effective, long-term, and sustainable approach in fighting hidden hunger because once the biofortified crops are developed; there are no costs of buying the fortificants and adding them to the food supply during processing.
- Biofortified crops are also often more resilient to pests, diseases, higher temperatures and drought – essential qualities as many countries become increasingly susceptible to climate change.