Current Affairs - Agriculture & Allied Sector
Implementation Drawbacks In PMFBY
Why is it in News?
As per Agriculture Ministry officials, of the total earmarked amount of Rs 1,400 crore for north-eastern States under PMFBY, only half a percent or Rs 8 crore was spent in 2018.
Drawbacks in Implementation:
- Four north-eastern States — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram — are not covered under the scheme at all.
- In the States of North-East and Union Territory of Daman and Diu, insurance companies have not shown their interest and there is lack of state budgetary resources to pay the premium.
- The reasons for the lack of interest among insurance companies are:
- High administrative costs and lack of proper land records.
- Historic yield data is not available for these States.
- It is difficult to conduct crop-cutting experiments needed for many of the horticulture crops.
- Lack of insurance coverage in these areas has resulted in thousands of devastated maize farmers due to the attack of armyworm pest there.
- Some of the states like Bihar and West Bengal have decided to withdraw from the scheme as they are developing their own State-level schemes, while Punjab never participated in the scheme.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:
- It provides for a uniform premium to be paid by farmers at 2% for all Kharif crops, 5% for commercial and horticultural crops and 1.5% for rabi crops.
- The scheme will encourage the use of technology, such as smartphones to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers and use of remote sensing to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
- Comprehensive risk insurance is provided to cover yield losses due to non-preventable risks, such as Natural Fire and Lightning, Storm, Hailstorm, Cyclone, Typhoon, Tempest, Hurricane, Tornado. Risks due to Flood, Inundation and Landslide, Drought, Dry spells, Pests/ Diseases also will be covered.
Why is it in News?
A pest ‘fall armyworm’ (FAW) had damaged 3,082.5 MT maize across 2,055 hectares of land in Lunglei district, Mizoram. The FAW spread to all the eight districts of Assam from Lunglei and have also damaged crops in Manipur.
No Insurance Scheme:
- An estimated loss of Rs 6.47 crore may not be able to be compensated due to the absence of any insurance scheme.
- The reason for the farmers and their crops not being insured is due to the inability of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) being introduced in Mizoram for want of a worthwhile company when the tender was floated for the purpose.
- It has been said by the officials that farmers could still be compensated under the PMFBY. A fresh tender has been floated to which a few companies have also shown interest.
Relevance of the News:
The news throws light on the importance of crop insurance for ensuring farmer security.
Fall Armyworm (FAW):
- FAW is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas which in the lack of nature control can cause crop destruction.
- Though it prefers maize but can feed on more than 80 other species of crops, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.
- First detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 it was confirmed in India and Yemen in July 2018.
- Because of the crop trade and the moth’s strong flying ability, it has the potential to spread further.
Technology In Farming
Why is it in News?
- The Agriculture Ministry plans to start a pilot project which would use technology to determine yield estimates at the Panchayat level this summer. This would reduce the delay of crop insurance claim settlements and increase the accuracy of compensation due to farmers.
- The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) requires the States to carry out minimum of four crop-wise Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) in every gram panchayat for the submission of the yield data to insurance companies within 30 days of harvest.
Crop Cutting Experiment (CCE):
- CCE (Crop Cutting Experiment) is a process used to analyse the overall crop yield of the village and forms the basis for the Government to disburse crop insurance claims to farmers, under the PMFBY.
- The current methodology of yield estimation is affected by the shortage of current year data at the time of planning of CCEs, affecting the accuracy of estimates.
How will the Pilot Project carried out?
- Now a pilot project is to be carried out in the kharif 2019, aims to directly estimate yields without using CCEs.
- Technologies such as satellite and remote sensing data, unmanned aerial vehicles and artificial intelligence will be used to assess yield estimates without the need of time-consuming and laborious crop-cutting experiments, according to the parameters of the project issued.
- The pilot project will focus on paddy, soybean, cotton, bajra, maize, sorghum and groundnut.
Bt Brinjal Cultivation
Why is it in News?
A legal notice to the Union Environment Minister has been sent by Prashant Bhushan, asking for a freeze on all genetically modified organisms, including field trials after reports of illegal Bt Brinjal cultivation in Haryana were cited.
About Bt Brinjal:
- Grown on nearly 550,000 hectares, it makes India the second largest producer of Brinjal after China with a 26% world production share.
- Brinjal is vulnerable to damage from insect pests and diseases, the most serious and ruinous of which is the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) Leucinodesorbonalis.
- Bt Brinjal, India’s First Vegetable Biotech Crop, consists of an insecticidal protein, called ‘cry1ac’ gene sourced from the genes of the soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis which confers resistance against FSB.
- Its commercial release was sanctioned by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee under the Environment Ministry in 2009, but then its release was halted by the then Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in February 2010 and it was banned indefinitely. Cultivation of Bt Brinjal is illegal in India.
Pros & Cons of Bt Brinjal:
- The use of pesticides and costs will go down, yield of Brinjal will increase.
- The impact on human health and environment is not clear, introducing Bt Brinjal will open gates for other genetically-modified crops.
Cotton Production In India
Why is it in News?
The Confederation of Indian Textile Industry, in a recent report has estimated a drop in the production of cotton in India due to the droughts in cotton growing states.
About Cotton Crop:
- It is a kharif crop that is generally sown in April and harvested in December.
- Temperature- It needs 20-30 degree Celsius temperature.
- Rainfall- 75-100 cm of moderate rainfall required
- Cotton is very sensitive to rainfall; it needs rain during the sowing season only, if rain happens during harvesting, it will lead to pest attacks on the cotton balls as these balls will absorb the moisture which favour pests.
- It needs 210 frost free days.
- Regur soil of Deccan region is more favourable for cotton production in India, but it is also produced in regions having Loamy & Alluvial Soil.
- Cotton quality is decided by its Fibre Length, which is called Staple.
- a)Long Staple Cotton- 24-27 mm length
- b)Medium Staple Cotton- 20-24mm length
- c)Short Staple Cotton: 20mm length
- India is the only country where all 4 cultivated species of cotton is grown.
- India has the largest area under cotton production in the world.
- India is the 2nd largest producer of cotton in the world after China.
- India is the 2nd largest exporter of cotton in the world after US.
- India is the 2nd largest consumer of cotton in world.
- States where cotton is grown in India- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha etc.
Source: TH, G.C. Leong
Category: Current Affairs
Why is it in News?
Experts are of the opinion that India shall focus on mariculture, the same way as that it focuses on agriculture as due to increase in population there is a need to focus on other food sources as the land available for crops will reduce. Therefore, the immediate need is to try and improve the efficiency of food production.
What is Mariculture?
- Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater.
- Production of seaweeds, oysters, shrimps, prawns etc. falls under the ambit of mariculture.
Marine macroalgae or seaweeds are plant-like organisms that generally live attached to rock or other hard substrata in coastal areas.
These seaweeds have very high medicinal value and are eaten in most parts of the world like-Philippines, Japan, China, Indonesia etc. as these seaweeds have low calorific value and are rich in calcium, zinc, omega 3, omega 6 etc.
How are Seaweeds different from Sea Grass?
- Sea grass looks like grass but is marine flowering plant having well developed root system. They generally grow in shallow waters with sandy/ muddy bottoms. Sea cow/ Dugong depend on sea grass for food.
- Seaweeds on the other hand are not plants but are usually protists i.e. they attach themselves to some substrate like- rock, corals etc.