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					April 2011
Vol:03   Issue:04
                                                                                 AGRI Titbits

          a compilation of spices & other riculture news
                                                            AGRI Titbits
                                                                     Monthly Bulletin of Agricultural News


     • Spicing up disease prevention
                                                      • Malayali behind first e-book on

     • India goes from big player to has-been

        on pepper scene                                  agriculture
     • Average price of white pepper surges           • Students bring alive a lively
        more than 10% to RM21, 530 per tonne             little green story
     • Rising turmeric acreage may curb last          • In harmony with Nature
        year's record prices                          • Farm produce prices soar on
     • Clove, the best antioxidant spice                 high demand
     • Rain, heat to affect cardamom                  • Biological control a safe
        production                                       component of IPM
     • Grenada celebrates rare, massive               • Commercial farming of Golden
        nutmeg production
                                                         Rice in 2 years
     • High local prices hit cardamom exports
                                                      • Scientists don’t want more tests,
                                                                                    this issue
                                                         back ‘limited release’
     • Bangalore man raises healing garden            • Agri reforms panel wants push
                                                         to contract farming
     Herbs                                                                                                       spices

     • Malaria-treating herbs face extinction

                                                      • Scientific resources at district

                                                         level to boost agri output
                                                                                                        climate change

     • Chennai embraces organic era                   • Punjab farmers shift to manual
     Organic farming

     • Locally grown organic produce less                harvesting

                                                      • Haryana only state to issue soil
     • Organic Farming Grew 8 Percent in 2010
                                                         health cards
     • Organic agriculture
                                                      • Sweet solution: Sugarcane helps
     • 10% organic farming can save Rs 25,000
        crore: Scientists                                cool climate
     • Quicker shift to organic farming               • High-yielding aromatic rice
        possible: Minister                               variety soon
                                                      • Bring in ever-green revolution
                                                                                                     Agri Titbits

                                                         with nano-science'
                                                                                             is an effort to collect and

     • Customized treatment Cancer                    • Kisan Call Centre redresses
     Break Through                                                                              preserve agricultural

     • For more Solar Energy                             difficulties of four lakh farmers
                                                                                              news, especially spices,

                                                      • Haryana-Israel panel to boost
                                                                                             appearing in newspapers

                                                         agriculture ties
                                                                                                 and online media

     • Forests to change irreversibly: Expert
                                                      • Farmers' organisations can play
     Bio diversity

     • Birds stay away from ravaged wetlands
     • Bird species count begins in Shimla hills         a more constructive role
     • A wildlife census after nine years             • Tackling root knot nematode in
                                                                                                   published by

     • Satellite imaging to help protect sand            carrot
                                                                                              Dr. V A Parthasarathy

        dunes, mangroves                              • Broccoli, lettuce grow well in
                                                         Kerala plains: KAU
                                                                                             compiled & prepared by
                                                                                               Dr. Sushma Devi C K
                                                                                                    Jayarajan K

     • Prepare for long-term climate change
     Climate change                                                                                  Riyas K P

        impacts on food production: FAO
                                                                                              Indian Institute of Spices

     • Untimely rain damages crop worth
                                                      Malayalam                                       Research

                                                                                             (Indian Council of Agricultural
                                                                                              Calicut-673012, Kerala, India
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       Spicing up disease prevention

       For centuries, cultures all over the world
       The Bangok Post / April 26, 2011

       have subscribed to the belief that food can
       also be medicine. Chinese, Indian and Thai
       cuisines draw much of their distinct flavours
       from herbs and spices, such as curcumin and
       turmeric, that are believed to have health
       Curcumin, a key component in turmeric, is
       currently being evaluated by medical
       researchers checking on potential preventive
       qualities for a number of medical conditions.    Curcumin is believed to work by interfering
       Herbal medicine practitioners often use          with the activity of the cell-signalling factor
       turmeric as a main ingredient in topical         NF Kappa-B, which has been linked to a
       ointments prescribed for psoriasis, skin         number of inflammatory diseases including
       inflammation and joint inflammation.             cancer In one study, smokers who took a
                                                        daily teaspoon of turmeric for 30
       Research on curcumin has revealed it to be a     consecutive days had lower levels of cancer-

       potent antioxidant that can help fight the       causing agents in their urine.
       damaging effects of free radicals, which play
       a significant role in the ageing process and     Researchers at the University of Chicago
       are believed to contribute to a number of        found that curcumin also inhibits the growth
       age-related diseases such as heart disease,      of H. pylori, a bacteria associated with
       Alzheimer's disease and even some types of       cancers of the stomach and colon. In
       cancer.                                          addition, curcumin appears to promote heart
                                                        health thanks to its blood-thinning
       How does the body get free radicals? Free        properties. Other research suggests that
       radicals are generated at a near-constant        curcumin can help slow the build-up of
       pace by the body's metabolic process, and        harmful plaque in blood vessels - a major
       even faster during exercise or when the body     risk factor for heart attacks. And turmeric
       is in heavily polluted environments which        extract appears to lower cholesterol as well.
       expose us to car emissions or cigarette          In one study, participants who took 500
       smoke.                                           milligrams of curcumin each day for 10 days
       For smokers, each puff on a cigarette            in a row showed significant drops in
       releases millions of free radicals within the    cholesterol levels, especially LDL, the so-
       body, where they can unleash damage upon         called "bad cholesterol".
       everything they contact, including cell walls,   For those struggling with their weight,
       muscle fibres, nerve cells and even              curcumin appears to also have lipid or fat-
       individual genes that make up one's DNA.         lowering properties, and helps fight weight
       Many studies have shown a variety of             gain by fighting the body's ability to absorb
       promising health benefits from taking            fat. A 2009 study published in the Journal of
       curcumin supplements.                            Nutrition reported that curcumin, which is
                                                        rich in polyphenol, helped reduce weight
       Studies on curcumin have shown it to inhibit
                                                        gain in mice by suppressing the growth of fat

       certain inflammation factors including
       production of histamines, making it
       potentially beneficial to people seeking a       Curcumin has also received attention for its
       natural way to reduce joint pain and
                                                        SKINCARE POTENTIAL

                                                        potential benefits for the skin. Traditionally,
       swelling.                                        turmeric has been used in powder form to
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       treat acne and to lighten skin tone. More          Like    other     nutritional    supplements,
       recently, curcumin is an increasingly popular      curcumin is considered an alternative
       ingredient in topical creams and ointments         therapy, and the manufacture of curcumin
       prescribed for skin conditions including           and other supplements may not be heavily
       inflammation, eczema and psoriasis. In             regulated, so it's advisable to only purchase
       addition, curcumin can be found in many            products from trustworthy manufacturers.
       creams used for wound healing.
                                                          No toxic side effects have been linked to the
       While the medical community remains
                                                          SIDE EFFECTS

                                                          use of curcumin. Though it is generally
       divided on curcumin's ability to treat skin
                                                          considered safe, it may cause stomach
       disorders, a number of studies currently
                                                          irritation in some patients, and it may cause
       underway may help shed more light on the
                                                          a negative interaction with other drugs,
       most effective ways to use curcumin to treat
                                                          including      blood-thinning      medication
       a variety of common skin conditions.
                                                          prescribed for certain heart diseases or
                                                          NSAIDs prescribed for arthritis due to their
       The recommended daily usage of curcumin
                                                          blood-thinning properties. Be sure to seek

       extract ranges from 300 to 500 milligrams.
                                                          professional advice before beginning any
       People with chronic diseases should consult
                                                          new supplement regimen.
       their doctor before taking any curcumin
       supplements. To prevent potential side
       effects such as stomach irritation, curcumin
       supplements are best taken with food or
       soon after eating.

       India goes from big player to has-
       been on pepper scene
                                                          As of now the nerve centre of the pepper
                                                          market is Vietnam. India is no longer a
       The Business Standard / April 22,

       Kochi: Vietnam has shipped almost 23 per           player in the global scene. Supply from India

       cent of their fresh crop, signalling some          is too short in the world market due to lower
       interesting developments in the global black       output in this season.
       pepper mart. The country, which is
                                                          According to a leading Kochi-based exporter,
       estimated to have a crop size of 110,000
                                                          India is not having much surplus to export,
       tonnes this season, has already exported
                                                          hence importing nations are not keen here.
       25,000 tonnes according to the latest
                                                          Also the current Indian price tag is slightly
       estimates available.
                                                          higher than that of Vietnam at $6,100 a
       As the entire global pepper mart is now            tonne. Though Vietnam market moves in
       eyeing the supply from Vietnam, it is              tune with the Indian futures counters,
       expected to swell up further due to                pepper is available there in the range of
       increasing global demand. It is reported that      $5,600-5,800.
       buyers from Europe and the US have been
                                                          China is now in an aggressive buying mood
       active in Vietnam market on account of an
                                                          due to crop failure there. Incessant rainfall in
       anticipated short supply in the third and last
                                                          Vietnam had upset the processing and
       quarters of the current year.
                                                          arrival of fresh harvests to warehouses
       The market has ballooned up during the last        which is also dampening the global supply.
       couple of weeks and is expected to breach          Interestingly suppliers across the globe,
       the level of $6,000 a tonne soon. According        especially of Vietnam, are not to keen as
       to experts, the price of Asta grade is likely to   main market parameters favour a sharp
       stabilise around $6,000.                           increase in the price of the commodity.
                                                          Growers in Vietnam are not so aggressive in
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       selling the crop due to high prices of other     tonnes for this year. Last year, the total
       agri products like coffee and cashew.            production was 290,700 tonnes. Sharp
                                                        decline in production is projected in
       China and Indonesia, both reported to have
                                                        countries like India, Indonesia, China and
       small crop this time and China is expected to
                                                        Brazil while production will be static in
       have a big offtake from Vietnam this season.
                                                        Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The
       Around 23 per cent of the crop from Vietnam
                                                        position of Indonesia will be more critical as
       has already been exported and it is
                                                        this year production is likely to be only
       estimated that by August-September stock
                                                        10,000 tonnes due to adverse climatic
       from Vietnam would be exhausted.
       In certain areas of Vietnam, harvest is
                                                        In 2010, their production was 30,000 tonnes
       starting now and more arrival is possible
                                                        and had a carryover stock of 15,000 tonnes,
       this month. But, after April a major chunk of
                                                        aggregating a total supply of around 45,000
       the fresh crop will be in the hands of
                                                        tonnes. But for the next crop season,
       exporters and traders. So, middle men and
                                                        scheduled for this July, the total output might
       exporters expect a sharp increase in prices in
                                                        be 10,000 tonnes and their carryover stock
       the latter half of this year.
                                                        is negligible. Thanks to aggressive selling in
       An estimated sharp fall in global production     the last season almost cent per cent of their
       is also likely to pursue a sharp increase in     stock was sold out. Similarly, in India
       prices this year. There may be a shortfall of    production will drop to 40,000 tonnes from
       around 33,000-35,000 tonnes as global            the normal size of 55,000 tonnes.
       production of the spice is pegged at 257,000

       Average price of white pepper
       surges  more   than  10%   to
       RM21,530 per tonne
                                                        tonne or nearly 11% from the closing price
       KUCHING: Pepper prices are soaring,
       The Star / April 28, 2011

                                                        of RM12,100 last year. In 2010, black pepper
       boosted by the tight supply globally as
                                                        soared by nearly 30%, from RM9,350 per
       farmers hold back their stocks in
                                                        tonne recorded in 2009.
       anticipation of higher prices.
                                                        White and black pepper hit their historical
       The average price of domestic white pepper
                                                        highs of RM28,000 and RM16,000 per tonne
       surged to RM21,530 per tonne on Tuesday,
                                                        respectively in 1999. From those peaks, they
       an increase of RM2,030 per tonne, or more
                                                        nosedived to RM6,500 and RM4,000 per
       than 10%, compared with 2010's highest
                                                        tonne respectively five years later before
       closing price of RM19,500 per tonne. The
                                                        making a strong recovery in 2006. Malaysian
       price broke the RM20,000 per tonne mark
                                                        Pepper Board director-general Grunsin
       early last month.
                                                        Ayom said farmers in India and Brazil, the
       White pepper prices had enjoyed a good run       world's second and fourth largest producer
       and surged by about 27% last year.               respectively, had been holding back their
       The average price of black pepper hit this       stocks, hoping to sell at better prices later.
       year's new high of RM13,400 per tonne
       yesterday, which was up by RM1,300 per
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       He said some local farmers, who were               Grunsin said Vietnam, the world's No. 1
       economically better off, were also waiting to      pepper producer, had just harvested
       sell their stocks into the price rally.            between an estimated 90,000 and 100,000
                                                          tonnes, which was close to one third of
       “As they are in no hurry to sell, this has
                                                          global production.
       resulted in a tight supply, thus pushing up
       the prices further. It is a seller's market. The   “Some of these new (harvests) are already in
       global supply of coffee, as well as other          the market,” he noted. Asked if the current
       spices, are also in a tight situation,” he told    price uptrend could continue or be
       StarBiz yesterday.                                 sustained, he replied: “That is anyone's
                                                          guess.” Pepper is increasingly used as an
       Grunsin said China, which imported some
                                                          ingredient in food processing, and domestic
       1,850 tonnes of pepper from Malaysia last
                                                          consumption had gone up steadily over the
       year, was buying more of the commodity this
                                                          Malaysia, the world's fifth largest pepper
       The International Pepper Community (IPC),
                                                          producer, exported an estimated 14,040
       of which major producing countries are
                                                          tonnes worth RM190mil last year, up from
       members, has forecast that world production
                                                          13,122 tonnes valued at RM156mil in 2009.
       in 2011 would dip by about 2% to 309,950
       tonnes, from an estimated 316,380 tonnes           There are more than 14,100 ha of pepper
       harvested last year.                               farms in Malaysia, of which 14,000 ha are in
                                                          Sarawak. The other pepper-producing states
       It has projected an estimated global shortfall
                                                          are Johor and Sabah.
       of some 45,000 tonnes this year.

       Rising turmeric acreage may curb
       last year's record prices
       KOCHI/PUNE: Last year's record prices have         In a year, there has been over 15% rise in
       The Economic Times / April 12, 2011

       led to a higher turmeric production this year.     acreage in Erode and Salem, the main
       With more land brought under the crop, the         growing regions of the spice, according to a
       production would be higher in the coming           senior official of Spices Board. The
       years too. The farmers who earned a high           production is predicted to be in the range of
       income last year are likely to end the current     65 to 70 lakh bags (each bag weighs 70-75
       year with less earnings.                           kg), which is over 40% higher than the
                                                          previous year.
       "There are around 50,000 farmers engaged
       in turmeric cultivation in Erode belt alone.       Higher production is not limited to south
       While some new farmers have moved into             India. Turmeric farming in Sangli district in
       the crop, the existing ones have extended          Maharashtra has intensified. "The area under
       farming to more areas with prices shooting         turmeric is expected to double this year. It
       up last year," said leading turmeric trader RK     may go up from 1,200 hectares last year to
       Vishwanathan . According to the figures            3,000 hectares next year," said BG Birajdar,
       available with Spices Board, the total area        district superintending agricultural officer,
       under turmeric is 1,94,358 hectare.                Sangli. The arrivals at the Sangli APMC are
                                                          up by 20% from 3.76 lakh quintal last year to
                                                          4.50 lakh quintal this year.
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       Clove, the best antioxidant spice
       ISLAMABAD: Clove is the best antioxidant
                                                          "These substances exhibit high antioxidant
       The Pak Tribune / April 21, 2011

       spice, say Miguel Hern?ndez University
                                                          capacity, and could have beneficial effects for
       (UMH) researchers.
                                                          health", says the researcher.
       Using spices eaten in the Mediterranean diet
                                                          The team also evaluated the antioxidant
       as natural antioxidants is a good way
                                                          effect of the essential oils from other spices
       forward as far as health is concerned.
                                                          used in the Mediterranean diet ? oregano
       Boffins from the Miguel Hern?ndez                  (Origanum vulgare), thyme (Thymus
       University have identified cloves (Syzygium        vulgaris),       rosemary,       (Rosmarinus
       aromaticum) as the best antioxidant spice,         funcionarios cinalis) and sage (Salvia
       due to the fact they contain high levels of        funcionarios cinalis).
       phenolic compounds, as well as having other
                                                          The objective of the study is to enable these
                                                          spices to be incorporated into food products
       "Out of the five antioxidant properties tested,    (above all meat products) as natural
       cloves had the highest capacity to give off        antioxidants.
       hydrogen, reduced lipid peroxidation well,
                                                          "Lipid oxidation is one of the main reasons
       and was the best iron reducer", Juana
                                                          for foods deteriorating, and causes a
       Fern?ndez-L?pez, one of the authors of the
                                                          significant reduction in their nutritional
       study and a researcher at the UMH, tells SINC
                                                          value, as well as loss of taste", says
       As a result, the research study published in
                                                          These alterations lead to a reduction in the
       the latest issue of the Flavour and Fragrance
                                                          useful lifespan of the food product. To avoid
       Journal ranks this spice as the best natural
                                                          such deterioration, the food industry uses
                                                          synthetic antioxidants in its products.
       "The results show that use of the natural          However, as these are chemical compounds,
       oxidants occurring in spices used in the           questions have been raised about their
       Mediterranean diet, or their extracts, is a        potential toxicity and side-effects.
       viable option for the food industry, as long as
                                                          As a result, there is a growing interest in
       the organoleptic characteristics of the food
                                                          using plant-based products (spices, aromatic
       product are not affected", adds the
                                                          and medicinal plants) with potential
                                                          antioxidant activity, in order to replace the
                                                          synthetic antioxidants with ?natural?

       Rain, heat                             to         affect             cardamom
                                                          The heavy rainfall, especially in the night,
       Kochi: Summer showers in most parts of             followed by summer heat has destroyed
       Business Standard / April 12, 2011

       Idukki district in Kerala have upset the           fresh panicles. According to growers this
       production cycle of cardamom plantations,          would badly affect the flowering of
       according to farmers. Idukki has the               plantations leading to a decline in
       maximum area under the crop (around                production. Next harvesting season would
       32,500 hectares) and gives 60 per cent of the      commence from July. The growth of fresh
       total production in the country.                   panicles from the suckers normally happens
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       in May-June with the beginning of monsoon.       sales. On March 7, the price was Rs 1,008 a
       But the on going, wide spread summer             kg and on the March 6, it was Rs 1,010 a kg.
       shower has upset the production cycle of         Except on these two days of this month,
       plantations. Branches of these panicles carry    auction centers quoted an average price
       flowers     which     ultimately     produce     below Rs 1,000 a kg. This is off season in
       cardamom. As the summer is at its peak, the      cardamom production and growers and
       heat damages the new offshoots that upsets       traders expected a sharp upward movement
       the hopes of farmers here.                       in prices during this period. But, to the
                                                        dismay of growers and traders, the price is
       They said the drying of plants might affect
                                                        dropping now.
       the formation of new panicles and flowering
       during May-June. So, growers foresee a drop      In last April, average price was Rs 1,353 a kg.
       in production in the next cardamom season.       In the harvesting season last year (July-
                                                        September), the average price was Rs 1,200
       Meanwhile, the average price of the spice
                                                        a kg.
       dropped to Rs 990 a kg in latest auction

       Grenada celebrates rare, massive
       nutmeg production
                                                       pound from 93 cents to $1.50 in December,
                                                       and because the government launched a
       Grenada, the so-called spice island, is         new stimulus program to cultivate
       Associated Press / April 28, 2011

       struggling to pay farmers after a dramatic      abandoned fields, Clyne said. He also
       jump in nutmeg production rarely seen           credited unseasonal rains.
       since a devastating 2004 hurricane, officials
       said Thursday.                                  "We are having good quality of great
                                                       numbers," he said. "There is a shortage in
       Farmers produced nearly 447,000 pounds          the world market, so it is a step in the right
       (203,000 kilograms) of nutmeg in March,         direction."
       the peak month for production, which is a
       nearly 500 percent increase in the amount       Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said the
       anticipated, said Marlon Clyne, general         government has appointed a committee to
       manager for the privately run Grenada           investigate the association's late payments
       Cooperative Nutmeg Association.                 to farmers and to find solutions.

                                                       "Given the strategic nature of this
       "We were not prepared for that explosion,"
       he said. "It would be one of the biggest        commodity in the country's economy, its
                                                       employment potential and the number of
       production months since Hurricane Ivan."
                                                       families touched by it, we feel compelled to
       Ivan ripped through the Caribbean island in     look into the situation," he said.
       2004, killing 39 people and causing massive
       destruction to crops and homes.                 Farmers have been forced to hire at least 40
                                                       additional seasonal workers and expect
       The association says it does not have the       production levels to remain strong as the
       remaining $140,000 immediately available        rainy season approaches. Although the
       that it owes for the product it is receiving.   sharp increase in production has surprised
                                                       many, it is nowhere near pre-Ivan levels,
       It anticipated 87,000 pounds (39,400            which hovered around 4 million pounds (2
       kilograms) for the harvest in March.            million kilograms) of nutmeg a year.
       Production grew so sharply in part because
       the association increased the price per
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       High local                            prices        hit          cardamom
       KOCHI: High prices in the local market have     cautious about shipping second-grade
       The Economic Times / April 19, 2011

       made Indian cardamom uncompetitive              quality. If more good quality cardamom was
       overseas. Top rival Guatemala has regained      available, India could have exported at least
       its market share in the Middle East, the        500 tonne more," Nityanandan said.
       world's biggest market for this fragrant pod.
                                                       In 2009-10, bulk of the exports happened
       Guatemala edged out India last year in          before the spot cardamom prices went
       cardamom exports to the Gulf region by          above Rs 1,000 per kg, said PC Punnoose,
       selling $3 to $5 lower than Indian prices per   general manager of Kerala Cardamom
       kg. India was a predominant supplier to the     Processing and Marketing Co-operative
       global market as Guatemalan production          Society (KPMC). The cardamom prices rose
       slumped on inclement weather in 2009-10.        to a high of Rs 1,700 per kg before falling to
       India exported a record 1,975 tonne during      Rs 1,200 early 2011.
       that period.
                                                       The production for the current season is
       But the country has managed to ship just        expected to be slightly higher than previous
       865 tonne in April-February 2010-11.            year's    11,000      tonne.     Guatemalan
       "India was selling at $30 a kg while            production last year was 20,000 tonne,
       Guatemalan cardamom went at $25 to $27          higher than the earlier estimate by nearly
       per kg in the international market," said       4,000 tonne.
       leading exporter Nityanandan of SPG
                                                       The farmers and traders feel that cardamom
       Ramaswamy Nadar & Sons. As the domestic
                                                       prices will stabilise around Rs 1,000 per kg
       prices went below Rs 900 a kg, the growers
                                                       level in the coming weeks as the local
       held on to their stocks expecting better
                                                       demand is good. The futures are showing a
       prices. When the supply thinned, Indian
                                                       firm trend. The May contract in MCX ruled
       cardamom became costly in the global
                                                       at Rs 1,135 per kg on Monday. Close to 90%
       market. Though the prices have rebounded
                                                       of the cardamom production is consumed
       to around Rs 1,000 per kg now, good quality
       cardamom has become scarce. "We are

       Bangalore man raises healing garden
                                                       precious databases of traditional healthcare
       BANGALORE: Darshan Shankar's garden is
       The Times of India / April 10, 2011

       lush and green but with a difference. It is
       raised to heal. His garden, on the fringe of    When he came to Bangalore in 1993, he was
       the city, near Yelahanka airbase, is his        alone but inspired by the knowledge of
       labour of love. It has over a thousand          tribals in Karjat where he lived for twelve
       varieties of rare medicinal plants. He wants    years.
       to bring back to the city a way of healthcare
                                                       "I used to see them use plants for their own
       that was once a part of every household.
                                                       well-being and their primary healthcare
       Shankar who started the Foundation for          was through traditional knowledge. With
       Revitalisation of Local Health Tradition        the same idea we started this institute so
       (FRLHT) with the idea to enforce                that citizens could raise their own gardens
       conservation of thousands of medicinal          of medicinal plants. We landscape their
       plants, herbs and methods available in          gardens so that citizens know of the huge
       India, is now the owner of some of the most     wealth in healthcare that we could access,"
                                                       he says.
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       Apart from maintaining databases of             with local communities like tribals at
       medicinal plants in the wild, scriptures        remote spots where these herbs and plants
       about tradition healthcare formulations,        are found.
       Shankar and his team maintain a nursery of
       medicinal plants for home                       When asked about the fading away of
                                                       traditional systems of care in households,
       gardens, they also provide basic knowledge
                                                       Shankar says, "We are not happy. I wish
       and training to communities. For instance,
                                                       more people knew about what they could
       homemakers who want to develop the
                                                       do. People could come here and learn."
       system at
                                                       Shankar's informatics department has some
       their houses could avail training from
                                                       information that citizens could access for
       FRLHT. The team has landscaped housing
                                                       free. For instance, their website has an
       societies in the city and institutions like
                                                       entire page on herbal home remedies with
       NAL, NCBS, Income tax buildings, properties
                                                       easily available plants like turmeric,
       under BDA and even BMTC. They have
                                                       hibiscus, tulsi for digestion problems,
       provided training to students of Christ
                                                       fevers, skin care and many others that
       College and Mount Carmel and around 300
                                                       citizens could access from home.
                                                       They also have documentation of literature
       "We have a GIS system to map where every
                                                       from 1,500 BC to 1,900 AD of around one
       medicinal plant is found. We want people to
                                                       lakh    manuscripts    and      medicinal
       change their gardens from exotic plants to
       useful medicinal plants," he adds.
                                                       Shankar who calls himself a social
       For citizens, Shankar has recently started an
                                                       entrepreneur chose Bangalore to develop
       Ayurvedic hospital too, with around 100
                                                       the institute because the entire peninsular
       beds. The hospital presently has the
                                                       region is the richest in medicinal plants and
       sophistication of mainstream diagnostic
                                                       access to both the Western Ghats and
       procedures like scans and ECG but the
                                                       Eastern Ghats is easier from here.
       treatment is a mix of various traditional
       therapies. As far as communities outside
       Bangalore are concerned, FRLHT engages

       Malaria-treating                                    herbs                         face
       According to research released in
                                                        The book provides a detailed assessment of
       Daily Nation / April 21, 2011

       anticipation of World Malaria Day on April
                                                        22 of the region’s malaria-fighting herbs,
       25, plants that have treated malaria
                                                        trees and shrubs.
       symptoms in East African communities for
       hundreds of years could be lost forever.         Knobwood grows in dry woodlands or
                                                        grasslands of eastern and southern Africa.
       One such plant, which is critically
       endangered in Kenya and threatened in            Extracts from leaves, bark or roots are used
       other regions, is Zanthoxylum chalybeum,         to effectively treat malarial fever in many
       commonly known as “knobwood”.                    communities. Other uses of the plant include
                                                        infusing tea with the leaves and making
       This is according to a new book by
       researchers at the World Agroforestry
       Centre (Icraf) and the Kenya Medical             The African wild olive (Olea europaea
       Research Institute (Kemri) titled: Common        Africana), also threatened in East Africa due
       Antimalarial Trees and Shrubs of East Africa.
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       to over-exploitation for timber, is used to         The species in the book were identified by
       treat malarial and other fevers.                    both traditional medicinal practitioners and
                                                           scientists as bearing the potential for further
       The plant also acts as a natural laxative to
                                                           study among over a thousand others that are
       expel parasites such as tapeworms.
                                                           considered effective in the prevention or
       “We’ve only scratched the surface on the            treatment of malaria symptoms.
       potential value of these plants.
                                                           The field data was gathered by Icraf
       “Although widely used by farmers and                scientists conducting research across Kenya,
       people in rural communities, most of this           Uganda and Tanzania. The scientists met
       information has never been collected in a           about 180 herbalists and 100 malaria
       comprehensive way by researchers,” said Dr          patients in 30 communities. Kemri supplied
       Geoffrey Rukunga, the director of Kemri’s           the information about each plant’s chemical
       Centre for Traditional Medicine and Drug            make-up. Malaria is a significant problem in
       Research and one of the book’s co-authors.          the region, with millions of cases reported
                                                           every year. At the same time, access to
                                                           modern treatment is limited.

       Chennai embraces organic era
                                                           compost and biological pest repellants like
                                                           marigold, organic food products are
                                                           receiving increasing patronage in the city in
       The New Indian Express / April 27,

       CHENNAI: Is organic food a fad? Why are             this era of genetically modified food. ‘Green’

       organically grown food products so                  is the keyword in this type of farming
       expensive if their input costs are less?            because chemicals like pesticides and
       Questions such as these are often raised as a       fertilisers are not used. Therefore, healthier
       counterpoint to the cause of organic food.          and more wholesome vegetables and cereals
       Organic farmers say that the high price index       are available at a higher price.
       is largely because the yield has not yet            Though it is rewarding in the long run, an
       reached the optimal limit. “Since pesticides        organic farm requires a lot of patience on the
       and other chemicals are not used in organic         farmer’s part. “It will take at least 2 or 3
       farming, the yield is less compared to              years for the yield to become regular
       vegetables grown with the help of                   because the soil has to be cleared of all the
       chemicals,” explains Dinesh Kumar, CEO of           chemical contamination which has been
       Brown tree, a chain of stores that specialises      happening over the past 40 years.” said
       in dry fruits, spices and a variety of health       Sridharan Chettiar, an organic farmer for the
       food, including organic food items. “Besides,       past one decade. The people in the city are
       some of the transportation costs are                becoming increasingly sensitised due to
       incurred by the farmers.”                           which his sales has been improving in the
       Brown tree has tied up with ‘Pro Nature’ a          last 2 years, he said.
       Bangalore based organic food company. The           “People who are living in urban areas can
       products are priced quite high. Rice, wheat         also contribute to the organic revolution by
       and pulses are sold at Rs 45 a kilo whereas         growing vegetables in their backyards,
       masoor dal (split red lentil) is sold at Rs 72      verandahs or terraces. Discarded plastic
       per half kilo. Despite the fact that the price is   items can serve as containers while kitchen
       higher and the quantity is comparatively            waste can serve as manure. Then people will
       less, Dinesh added that the nutritional value       understand the difference in quality,” said
       is so high in the small amount of organic           Nammazhwar, a well-known organic activist
       food that it is worth the cost.                     in Tamil Nadu.
       Organic food has been the talk of the town          According to Madhusoodhanan Kannan who
       for quite some time. A technique of farming         heads Dhanyam Organic, a superstore that
       which involves usage of only green manure,          specialises in all things organic, the rising
Home                                                                          AGRI Titbits

       popularity is just a taste of things to come.     there are many takers for such exotic items.
       “There is going to be an organic revolution in    “People have become so health conscious
       the country within the next five years. It will   nowadays that price is not an issue for them.
       emerge as the only sustainable form of            Middle and upper-middle class people form
       agriculture,” clarifies Madhusoodhanan.           the bulk of my clientele,” he said. “At the
                                                         moment, only the rich can afford it but in the
       Quinoa, a South American grain-like crop
                                                         years to come, more and more farmers will
       that has a balanced nutritional value and is a
                                                         take to organic farming. Hence the yield will
       complete protein source, is the most
                                                         increase and the prices will be regularised”,
       expensive item in his store, priced at Rs 750
                                                         he asserts.
       per half kilo. Astonishingly, he says that

       Locally grown organic produce less
       Abu Dhabi: Many people do not look for
       Gulf News / April 30, 2011

       organic vegetables and fruits when shopping
       despite knowing their health benefits.
       The thinking behind this is that they are
       more expensive than conventionally-grown
       produce. But locally grown organic
       vegetables and fruits are changing that trend
       as most of them are cheaper than non-
       organic produce, owner of Abu Dhabi
       Organic Farms, told Gulf News Friday.
       "Only imported organic produce used to be
                                                         The farm owner said beef tomato, a popular
       available in the UAE market which was more
                                                         vegetable from his farm, is Dh5 per kilogram
       expensive due to transportation costs. That
                                                         whereas the price of those imported from
       created an impression that all organic
                                                         Europe, costs Dh15 per kilogram or more.
       products are costlier," said the Emirati farm
       owner who did not want to be named. He            Organic lettuce costs Dh 5 to Dh6 each while
       said he did not want his name in the media        a non-organic one costs Dh7 to Dh8, he said.
       as he wanted to only promote organic              The imported organic lettuce is much more
       products.                                         expensive, he said. Mixed colour capsicum is
                                                         Dh10, while the non-organic one costs Dh14
       "I represent this emirate and would like to
                                                         to Dh15, he said.
       show that Abu Dhabi can pioneer the organic       Non-organic cucumbers
       farming," he said at his stall at the Organic
       Market organised by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi         But he said non-organic cucumbers are
       Future Energy Company, Friday.                    slightly cheaper, at Dh4 per kilogram, while
                                                         his produce is Dh5 per kilogram.
       The visitors to the fair at Masdar Institute of
       Science and Technology purchased the              His 55-hectare farm, a 15-minute drive from
       organic produce.                                  Abu Dhabi International Airport, produces
                                                         six to seven tonnes of 60 kinds of vegetables
       He said among four fast moving vegetables         daily. He said it was the first internationally
       — potato, cucumber, mix colour capsicum           certified organic farm in the UAE in 2007. It
       and lettuce, most of his products are cheaper     has an outlet in Al Mushrif.
       than the non-organic produce and some have
       the almost same price.
Home                                                                         AGRI Titbits

       Organic Farming Grew 8 Percent in
                                                        country. A total of 4.1 million acres of land
       The organic farming sector grew by 8
       Reuters / April 18, 2011

                                                        are currently in organic management, and
       percent in 2010, dramatically outpacing the
                                                        there are organic farms in all 50 states. Since
       food industry as a whole which grew at less
                                                        78 percent of organic farms report planning
       than 1 percent in 2010, according to an
                                                        to maintain or increase organic production
       industry report released earlier this month
                                                        levels over the next five years, the organic
       at the Organic Trade Association's (OTA)
                                                        sector will continue to play a contributing
       2011 Policy Conference in Washington D.C.
                                                        role in revitalizing America's rural economy
       OTA released data onsite from OTA's 2011         through diversity in agriculture. 40 percent
       Organic Industry Survey that reveal the          of organic operations added jobs in 2010. In
       industry has grown from $3.6 billion in 1997     addition, 96 percent of organic operations
       to $29 billion in 2010.                          are planning to maintain or increase
       Despite the nation's worst economic              employment levels in 2011, and 46 percent
       downturn in 80 years, the organic industry       of them are planning to increase
       has come out of the recession hiring             employment levels three times the rate of
       employees, adding farms, and increasing          businesses as whole.
       revenue.                                         Organic agriculture and the organic industry
       Organized by OTA and supported by the            are fueling America's growth. U.S. Census
       Organic Farming Research Foundation              data shows that on average, U.S. organic
       (OFRF) under the theme "Advance Organic          farms have higher sales, higher production
       Together," the conference focused on the         expenses, and higher operating profit than
       value of organic agriculture in providing        the average for all U.S. farms, thus creating
       sustainable    jobs,    supporting  rural        real opportunities for rural economic
       livelihoods,     and      advancing    an        livelihoods.
       entrepreneurial spirit.                          In fact, organic farms were shown to have an
       Among the findings from OTA's latest             average operating profit nearly double that
       industry survey (at the link below:              for all farms ($45,697 for organic versus
                                                        $25,448 for all farms).
       - The organic industry supports 14,540
       organic farms and ranches across the

       Organic agriculture
                                                        OA has a significant role to play in
       Organic Agriculture (OA) is a holistic           addressing two of the world’s biggest and
                                                        most urgent issues: climate change and food
       The Himalayan Times / April 13, 2011

       production management system which
                                                        security. Climate change mitigation and
       promotes and enhances the eco-system
                                                        adaptation and food security are
       health, including biological cycles and soil
       biological activity. Organic agriculture is      inseparable and inherent beneficial
       based on minimizing the use of external          characteristics of OA. Today climate change
                                                        is considered one of the most urgent
       inputs, avoiding the use of synthetic
                                                        environmental problems experts are
       fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and
                                                        alarmed about.
       livestock feed additives. It mainly depends
       on crop rotation, organic manures, bio-          In the Nepalese context, based on the
       pesticides and organic pest management.          studies done by the department of
Home                                                                         AGRI Titbits

       Hydrology and Metrology, the average             potential to counter soil degradation,
       temperature in Nepal is increasing at the        erosion as they are more resilient both to
       rate of approximately 0.06 degree Celsius        water stress and to nutrient loss. So it can
       per year. Nevertheless, the temperature in       be stated that well managed organic
       the Himalayas is increasing at a faster rate     agriculture leads to more favorable
       and this can have serious impacts on the         conditions at all environmental levels.
       country’s glacial lakes. Although definitive     However, organic agriculture is also blamed
       trends in aggregate precipitation have not       for slightly higher emission of methane
       been determined, there are evidences of          (CH4) due to higher proportion and lower
       more intense precipitation events. Because       productivity     of   ruminants.     Organic
       of climate change and the rising                 Agriculture stores carbon in soil and plant
       temperature.                                     biomass by building organic matter,
                                                        encouraging agro-forestry, maintaining bio-
       According to the Inter-Governmental Panel
                                                        diversity and forbidding the clearance of
       on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture
                                                        primary ecosystems. It minimizes energy
       contributes to 10-12 % of global
                                                        consumption by 30-70% per unit of land by
       greenhouse gas emissions and this figure is
                                                        eliminating the energy required to
       expected to rise further. Agriculture,
                                                        manufacture synthetic fertilizers, and by
       however, is not only contributing to global
                                                        using internal farm inputs, thus reducing
       warming, but is also affected by it to a major
                                                        fuel used for transportation. Further, OA
       extent. According to Burdick, increasing
                                                        helps farmers adapt to climate change: The
       global warming will shift cultivation zones
                                                        system prevents nutrient and water loss
       polewards, plant growth and production
                                                        through high organic matter content and
       being jeopardized by change in the
                                                        soil covers, thus making soils more resilient
       distribution of rainfall. There will be
                                                        to floods, droughts and land degradation
       increase of UV-B radiation, and change in
       the    chemical     composition      of    the
       atmosphere. In regions with continental          In contrast to the modern system, organic
       climate, soils are subject to desiccation,       agriculture represents a deliberate attempt
       meaning climate change will aggravate            to make the best use of local natural
       problems of salinity, erosion and                resources. The aim of organic agriculture is
       desertification. Extreme climate event will      to      create       integrated,      human,
       occur more frequently; threaten fresh water      environmentally and economically viable
       sources, change delicate ecosystems such as      agriculture system in which maximum
       mountain flora and fauna. Farming, fishing       reliance is placed on locally or farm derived
       and forestry will be disrupted and pest and      renewable resources and the management
       disease favored by a warmer climate will         of ecological and biological processes.
       continue to proliferate.
                                                        OA is affordable, eco-friendly, socially
       OA not only enables eco-system to better         sensible and economically viable. It has well
       adjust to the effects of climate change but      established practices based on local
       also offers a major potential to reduce the      resources that simultaneously mitigate
       emissions of agricultural greenhouse gas.        climate change, build resilient farming
       CO2 emissions per hectare of organic             communities, reduce poverty and improve
       agriculture systems are 48-66 % lower than       food security. It is only one measure among
       in conventional system. Moreover mixed           many others, even though if every single
       farming and the diversity of organic crops       country in the planet go organic, and if the
       rotations are protecting the fragile soil        international cooperation strengthened to
       surface.                                         review and implement responsibly the
                                                        commitments made right from the Rio earth
       The carbon sink idea of the Kyoto protocol
                                                        summit, Kyoto, Copenhagen to Cancun there
       may, therefore, partly be accomplished
                                                        is possibility in making a significant
       efficiently by organic agriculture in
                                                        difference to curb global warming in favor
       counteracting global climate. Further,
                                                        of future security.
       organically managed soils have a high
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       10% organic farming can save Rs
       25,000 crore: Scientists
       Dharamsala: Agriculture scientists have          diploma or degree courses in organic
       The Tribune / April 19, 2011

       opined that if just 10 per cent farming in the   farming and also give impetus to training
       country is turned organic, it will lead to net   programmes on organic agriculture for the
       saving of about Rs 25,000 crore in the           farmers.
       country. The saving will be in terms of
                                                        He said there was a vast scope of organic
       savings on farm inputs like fertilisers and
                                                        products due to the increasing demand and
       pesticides and subsidies given on these by
                                                        Himachal Pradesh could take a lead in this
       the Union Government.The scientists are
                                                        direction.Dr    JC   Rana,     Director   of
       attending a two-day national symposium-
                                                        Agriculture, HP, said there were around
                                                        24,000 registered organic farmers in
       brainstorming workshop on organic                Himachal Pradesh and the government had
       agriculture at Palampur Agriculture              decided to organise organic produce festival
       University. Around 150 scientists, planners      annually.Dr AK Yadav, Director, National
       and farmers from all over the country are        Centre of Organic Farming, said it was
       participating in the workshop jointly            imperative to restore soil health and
       organised by the Organic Agricultural            fertility for sustainable agriculture. The
       Society of India, Department of Agriculture,     country had limited options and organic
       HP, and the National Centre of Organic           agriculture was need of the times.
                                                        Dr SP Sharma, Director of Research,
       Dr Tej Partap, Vice-Chancellor (VC), Sher-e-     CSKHPAU, suggested that a special lab to
       Kashmir University of Agricultural Science       test organic inputs should be established in
       and Technology, Kashmir, who was the             the state. Dr YS Paul, Prof and Head,
       chief guest today, asked the scientist           Department of Organic           Agriculture,
       community to empower the farmers with            elaborated about various activities related
       useful technologies.Dr SK Sharma, VC of the      to teaching, research and extension
       host university, said the university would       education
       consider introducing certain certificate,

       Quicker shift to organic farming
       possible: Minister
       THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:            Agriculture
       The Hindu / April 28, 2011

       Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran said on
       Wednesday that Kerala could meet its target
       of a total switch-over to organic farming
       sooner than expected.
       The Minister was inaugurating a seminar on
       “Endosulfan: Issues and Safe Alternatives to
       Chemical Pesticides” organised by the Farm
       Information Bureau here.
       Target set
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       Mr. Ratnakaran said that Kerala had drawn          Kerala because of the ban on that pesticide.
       up an organic farming policy and had set a         Kerala had been demanding that States
       ten-year target for the change. It would be        should be given powers to regulate pesticide
       possible to speed up the process. In places        use since agriculture was a State subject.
       such as Onattukara, farmers had returned to
                                                          Referring to the Centre's stand that a
       traditional farming practices without using
                                                          national ban on Endosulfan could be
                                                          imposed only if other States too demanded
       He said that the State would be able to save       it, Mr. Ratnakaran asked if India had signed
       large sums in health costs if it reduced the       international agreements on agriculture
       use of pesticides. Keralites, who made up          sector after taking the consent of all States.
       only 3.25 per cent of India's population,          “Did it curtail the Public Distribution System
       were now consuming 20 per cent of the              because the States had demanded that?” he
       medicines marketed in the country.                 said.
       Refuting     the    Central     government's       The seminar saw presentations on various
       contention that there was hardly any               alternatives to pesticides and ways to
       alternative to Endosulfan, the Minister asked      achieve food safety.
       whether agriculture had been affected in

       Customised treatment for cancer
       The Hindu, 21 April 2011
       In what could soon improve cancer survival        “In patients with breast cancer, colon cancer
       rates, scientists claim to have achieved huge     and gastric cancer, we now have specific
       success in whole-genome sequencing, a             approaches for tumours that exhibit certain
       high-tech process which has opened the            genetic abnormalities.”
       way for personalised treatments for
       patients.                                         In one study, Pasche said, a patient with
                                                         leukaemia had a poor prognosis, but
       According to two new studies, published in        through sequencing, this patient was found
       the Journal of the American Medical               to have a gene that showed they would
       Association (JAMA), the first clinical            react favourably with a different therapy
       applications of whole-genome sequencing           than originally recommended.
       in cancer patients showed that customised
       treatments can help the suffers fight the         “If patients have certain genes, they may not
       disease significantly, compared to the            respond to certain treatments. But whole—
       standard therapies used for all.                  genome sequencing gives a full picture of
                                                         the genetic make-up of the tumour and the
       Whole-genome sequencing, which maps a             patient, and it may allow the physician to
       person's DNA and analyses it for mutations,       target a new treatment.”
       enables “us to screen a much larger number
       of tumours and correlate them with the            Pasche said the unbiased picture of the
       outcome of the patient”, said Boris Pasche,       sequenced DNA enables physicians to look
       deputy director of the University of              at tumours in a way not possible previously.
       Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).                      — PTI

       “So it is very likely that our targeted therapy
       is going to be exploding in the next decade,”
       Pasche said.
Home                                                                         AGRI Titbits

       For more solar energy
       The Hindu/7 April 2011                           nanoparticles, a billionth of a metre in size,
       Using minute graphite particles 1,000 times      were mixed into the heat-transfer oils
       smaller than the width of human hair,            normally used in solar thermal power plants,
       mechanical engineers hope to boost the           according to an Arizona State University
       efficiency and profitability of solar power      (where the research took place) statement.
       plants.An alternative that can make use of all
       of the sunlight, including light photovoltaics   The      researchers      chose      graphite
       can't use, is the solar thermal collector,       nanoparticles, in part because they are black
       reports the Journal of Renewable and             and therefore absorb light very well, making
       Sustainable Energy.                              them efficient heat collectors.In lab tests,
                                                        lead researcher Robert Taylor and his
       The purpose of these collectors, is to collect   colleagues    found     that    nanoparticles
       heat that can then be used. To further           increased heat-collection efficiency by up to
       increase the efficiency of solar collectors,     10 per cent.

       Forests                    to            change               irreversibly:
       Experts meeting under the National Mission
       for a Green India warn that ten years down
       The Asian Age / April 29, 2011

       the line India’s key forests, including the
       Himalayas, western ghats and central India
       could alter irreversibly.
       Making this dire warning was Dr
       Ravindranath, a professor at the Centre for
       Sustainable Technologies at the Indian
       Institute of Science, Bengaluru. He
       emphasised that an expected 2ºC increase in
       temperature due to climate change would
       result in a major shift from the present         regeneration and flowering patterns of these
       “forest type as we know it”.                     forests.

       Major vegetation change is expected to occur     This frightening change has already been
       in the forests of the Himalayas, western         highlighted in the report submitted to the
                                                        Prime Minister’s council on climate change
       ghats, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh,
                                                        which predicts “the percentage of forested
       Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. The
                                                        grids expected to undergo vegetation change
       less affected states, Dr Ravindranath
       stressed, would be Orissa and the north-         range from 3.5 per cent in the north-eastern
                                                        states to 73 per cent ii Chhattisgarh.”
       eastern states.
                                                        A change in the species of forest ecosystems
       Different scientific modelling techniques
                                                        would be accompanied by increased
       confirm that overall, the “country will
                                                        occurrences of fire, pests and loss of
       become hotter and wetter” as rainfall would
       increase in its intensity he said. Dr
       Ravindranath, who has contributed to eight       This would affect the livelihood security of
       reports of IPCC, including the IPCC-2007         local communities since 275 million rural
       Mitigation Report as well as the IPCC GHG        Indians depend on forest for their
       Inventory Guidelines-2006, believes higher       livelihoods.
       temperatures     will  also    affect   the
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       At present, forests absorb an estimated 1.6     environment and forests needs to prepare a
       million CO2 but this situation could reverse    long term monitoring strategy to ensure that
       radically with forest fires becoming            trees that are grown in future will adapt to
       producers of CO2. Dr Ravindranath therefore     the changing environment.
       has suggested that the ministry of

       Birds stay                           away            from                ravaged
       The Hindu / April 25, 2011

       KALPETTA: Habitat loss is posing a severe
       threat to the avian population in the major
       wetlands in northern Kerala. Malabar
       Ornithological Survey 2011, an ongoing
       survey on the avian population in the
       northern Kerala, being organised by the
       State Forests and Wildlife Department, also
       reveals the shocking status of major
       wetlands in these parts of the State.
       The survey shows that extensive sand-           Valapattanam and Kuppam rivers) and
       mining and new construction activities          Kadalundy estuaries no more attract the
       across rivers without any environmental         usual horde of migratory birds. They used to
       impact assessment (EIA) are harming             visit those places till a few years ago,” Mr.
       wetland birds in the region, C. Sasikumar,      Sasikumar said. In the 1990s, around 60
       Principal Investigator of the team told The     species of birds were recorded at Matakkara
       Hindu on Monday.                                regularly in winter. The present survey
       The team surveyed forests and wetlands in       sighted only 20 species, he added.
       Wayanad, Kannur, Kasaragod, Kozhikode,          Rare birds such as Pied Avocet, Crab Plover,
       Malappuram and Palakkad districts since         Great Knot and Eurasian Oystercatcher were
       mid-November 2010.The five-member team          recorded in Matakkara then, whereas this
       consisting of C.K. Vishnudas, S. Raju, P.A.     survey recorded only a few common species,
       Vinayan and V.A. Shebin, research associates,   Mr. Sasikumar said. It has to be believed that
       covered major wetlands in the region such as    mangrove afforestation — with good
       Panamaram in Wayanad; Kattampally,              intention, but without proper research — on
       Ezhome and Kuniyan in Kannur; Kalanad           tidal mudflats has rendered this ecosystem
       and Kumbala-Shiriya in Kasaragod; Mavoor        unsuitable for birds by reducing their food
       and Velimukkuchali in Kozhikode and             prospects, he added.
       different segments of Bharathapuzha in
                                                       “At Kadalundy, the traditional practice of
       Malappuram district. The team also surveyed
                                                       coconut husk retting is no longer more being
       all the major estuaries of north Kerala
                                                       done by the villagers. We suspect that it
       including      Madakkara,        Kadalundy,
                                                       might have some connection with the
       Korapuzha, Beypore as well as the seacoast
                                                       reduction of shorebirds, which once used to
       at Ezhimala, Ezharakadapuram, Kizhunna
                                                       frequent these mudflats,” Mr. Vishnudas of
       and Muzhapilangad. The team found that
                                                       the team said. In both the estuaries, mudflats
       almost all the wetlands were under threat
                                                       seem to have hardened and consisted mostly
       and the bird population there was declining
                                                       of sand now. A new bridge had come up
                                                       across the river mouth at Kadalundy and
       “It was shocking to observe that the inter-     another one was coming up at Matakkara
       tidal mudflats at the Matakkara (estuary of
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       compounding the ecological problems, he
       Though the wetlands of Kattampally had
       been declared as an Important Bird Area
       (IBA) by Birdlife International and Bombay
       Natural History Society (BNHS) in 2004, it
       was also found to be in a very much
       disturbed state, Mr. Sasikumar said. The
       diversity and number of birds were less
       there. The team found that several bridges
       had come up there and approach roads were       Whistling-Teal and around 1,500 Common
       constructed across the wetland without          Coot were recorded from the area, Mr.
       proper drainage. “It is sad that construction   Sasikumar said. Large flocks of gulls were
       activities are carried out in such important    observed at Ezhimala beach, mostly Black-
       bird habitats without EIA,” Mr. Vinayan said.   headed and Brown-headed gulls, several
                                                       Heuglin's and Pallas's gulls and a few
       The team surveyed Purathur estuary of the       Slender-billed gulls, which have been rarely
       Bharathapuzha, a stretch of close to 45 km      reported from Kerala.
       from Shoranur to Purathur. Apart from a
       small stretch of about three km near the        None of these wetlands comes under the
       Kuttipuram Bridge, the whole riverbed has       Protected Area network of the State, though
       been dug out by sand-miners.                    they host a large water bird community,
                                                       many of them globally threatened. If
       In contrast, the team found that the Mavoor     immediate steps are not taken to protect
       wetlands in Kozhikode city attracted large      these wetlands, the bird diversity of the State
       flock of resident and migratory birds,          will decline drastically, the survey warns.
       especially ducks. Over 4,000 Lesser

       Bird species count begins in Shimla
                                                       way creating awareness among the people
                                                       about nature conservation” said Chandrima,
                                                       a bird lover from Delhi, who covered the
       The Tribune / April 25, 2011

       Shimla: Ornithologists, researchers and
       nature lovers from the northern region          thickly wooded Glena and Vice-Regal Lodge
       assembled here today to undertake the first-    area.
       ever bird species count since Independence.     Somesh, who was part of the team which
                                                       covered the Shoghi-Kusumpti belt, was very
       The exercise was part of the Shimla Bird
       Race organised by the Himachal Birds, an        excited to notice that they came across 12
                                                       species which had not been recorded in the
       NGO founded by serving IPS officer and bird
       lover Somesh Goyal. Divided into eight          past.
       teams, 40 participants from Chandigarh,         He said there were around 100 species,
       Punjab, Haryana and Delhi toiled the whole      including rare pheasants, koklass, kaleej and
       day trekking up and down the hills, looking     cheer, in and around the Shimla hills. The
       for the winged creatures in the thickets on     last comprehensive bird species lists were
       the forest floor and the towering trees.        prepared by British men Frome and Hugh
       “It is indeed a unique experience for them      Whistler sometime before Independence.
       and they feel that such events will go a long
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       All teams will meet in the evening, exchange      The Himachal Birds has been actively
       notes and arrive at a final bird species count    promoting bird watching and conservation.
       which will enable to know the exact bird          It organised a photo exhibition here on
       status of the area.                               March 20 to mark World Sparrow Day.
       According to Somesh, bird races are held to       The Himachal Birds has decided to institute
       count the maximum number of birds on a            two annual awards of Rs 11,000 each for
       single day in a particular city or area, but no   outstanding contribution by an individual
       such exercise had ever been carried out in        and a group in the field which will be
       Shimla all these years. The exercise will         presented during the Bio-Diversity Week in
       provide a comprehensive bird list of Shimla       October. Nominations will be invited by the
       birds which will be provided to the Forest        end of August 2011 and the final selection of
       and Tourism Departments.                          the winners will be over by mid-September

       A wildlife census after nine years
                                                         Institute have offered to participate in the
       KOCHI: A comprehensive wildlife census            exercise. It is estimated that around 2,000
                                                         officials and volunteers will have to be
       The Hindu / April 18, 2011

       covering all the forest areas in the State will
       be carried out soon. The census, which is         involved in the process.
       likely to begin next month, is expected to        Before the 2002 census, a comprehensive
       give a clear indication regarding the wildlife    survey covering the entire forest area was
       wealth of the State. The latest survey comes      held in 1997. The earlier survey results had
       after a gap of nine years.                        indicated a positive trend in terms of wild
                                                         animal population.
       It was in 2002 that such a survey was held in
       the State last. Though the tiger and elephant     The department is in the process of finalising
       populations of the State are estimated            the modalities of the census, including the
       regularly, the latest date on other wildlife      methodology that needs to be adopted. It will
       present in the Kerala forest are not available,   also evolve a module for training the
       says N.V. Thrivedi Babu, Additional Principal     participants. Forest authorities are also
       Chief conservator of Forest.                      planning to seek the support of non-
                                                         governmental organisations and volunteers
       While the tiger population estimation of the
       State was carried out in 2010 and 2006,           for the census as it will considerably reduce
                                                         the census workload of its staff. Moreover,
       elephant population was estimated in 2010.
                                                         the participation of volunteers selected from
       Precious little is known about other wildlife     the general public will help in ensuring
       species which are present in the biodiversity     transparency and credibility of the exercise,
       rich forest of the State, officials say.          Mr. Babu says.
       Census will be conducted in the 35 forest         The volunteers will be made part of the
       divisions involving all the divisional forest     expert teams that will carry out the survey,
       officers. Agencies such as the World Wildlife     he says.
       Fund and the Kerala Forest Research

       Satellite imaging to help protect
       sand dunes, mangroves
       PANJIM: Every inch of sand dunes and              and river bodies would be now mapped with
       The Herald / April 14, 2011

       mangroves that are dotting Goa’s shoreline        the help of satellite imaging. Director of
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       Science and Environment Michael D’Souza             “The mangroves along such as khazan land
       said that the department has already                shall be protected and a management plan
       initiated process to map these ecologically         for the khazan land would be prepared and
       sensitive spots, which are protected under          no developmental activities shall be
       coastal regulation zone.                            permitted in the khazan land,” it adds
       The mapping is being done as a part of
       Coastal Regulation Zone 2011 notification.          These provisions also call for surveying and
       He stated that the remote sensing technology        mapping of sand dunes, and Goa beach
       would be used to map these crucial                  stretches along the bays and creeks.
       ecological landmarks.                               Accordingly, the environment minister had
                                                           issued direction for mapping the khazan
       The exact mapping would be done by taking
                                                           lands as well as to protect mangroves
       multiple satellite images, which will be
                                                           around the state.
       superimposed on each other for a final
       version.                                            It may be recalled that as per the survey
                                                           conducted by the Goa Coastal Zone
       Officials stated that the existing sand dunes
                                                           Management Authority (GCZMA) it was said
       and mangroves will be mapped so that even
                                                           that around three hectares of mangroves
       a slight damage to them can be reported as a
                                                           would be sacrificed for expansion of National
       violation of CRZ norms.
                                                           Highway (NH4) in the pockets of Banastarim
       “It is clearly said in the CRZ notification, that   and Chimbel.
       all the khazan lands, mangroves and sand
                                                           Though, the highway expansion project is yet
       dunes would be protected for ecological
                                                           to kick off the directions have been already
       balance,” D’Souza said.
                                                           issued to the public work department to
       The notification with specific provision for        replant three times the tracts of mangroves
       Goa reads, “the eco-sensitive low-lying areas,      that would be destroyed due to the
       which are influenced by tidal action known          expansion.
       as khazan lands shall be mapped.”

       Prepare  for    long-term  climate
       change impacts on food production:
                                                           related outbreaks of pest and diseases could
       NEW DELHI: “Potentially catastrophic”
       The Hindu / Arpil 1, 2011

                                                           reduce production. Poor people in countries
       impacts on food production from slow-onset
                                                           that depended on food imports were
       climate changes are expected to increasingly
                                                           particularly vulnerable to such effects, the
       hit the developing world in the future, and
                                                           FAO said.
       action is required now to prepare for those
       impacts, the Food and Agriculture                   “Currently the world is focussed on dealing
       Organisation (FAO) warned on Thursday in a          with shorter-term climate impacts caused
       report to the United Nations Framework              mainly by extreme weather events that is
       Convention on Climate Change.                       absolutely necessary,” said FAO Assistant
                                                           Director-General for Natural Resources
       Food production systems and the
                                                           Alexander Müller.
       ecosystems they depended on were highly
       sensitive to climate variability and change.        But, Mr. Müller pointed out, the ‘slow-onset'
       Changes in temperature, precipitation and           impacts were expected to bring about
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       deeper changes that would challenge the          “While these changes occur gradually and
       ecosystem services needed for agriculture,       take time to manifest themselves, we can't
       with potentially disastrous impacts on food      simply ignore them,” Mr. Müller said,
       security during the period from 2050 to          underscoring the need to “move beyond our
       2100. “Coping with long-term changes after       usual tendency to take a short-term
       the fact doesn't make much sense. We must        perspective and instead invest in the long-
       already today support agriculture in the         term.”
       developing world to become more resilient,”
       he said.

       Untimely rain damages crop worth
       The Business Standard / April 25,

       Chennai: Untimely rains in the state have
                                                        The turmeric, which was boiled and was

       damaged crops — both standing and
                                                        getting cured in the fields, was damaged in
       harvested — in Krishna and Guntur districts.
                                                        Nandigama and Nuzvid areas of Krishna
       The rain coupled with high speed gales           district, and Tenali and Guntur areas of
       destroyed mango fruits in several acres in       Guntur district.
       Krishna district. Farmers and local traders,
                                                        Officials of the agriculture department said
       who had pinned high hopes on the fruit this
                                                        as much as 200,000 quintals of chillies were
       year, are now busy collecting the dropped
                                                        lying in the fields. Similarly, paddy was in
       fruits and shifting the same to the market in
                                                        13,000 acres, maize in 20,000 acres and
       Vijayawada. The market has over 400 tonne
                                                        turmeric in 2,000 acres. The officials
       mango ready for export.
                                                        estimate that Rs 300 crore worth of crop has
       Commercial crops like turmeric, chillies,        been damaged in Guntur district.
       maize and groundnut were also damaged in
                                                        “We have kept the turmeric for curing after it
       the rain. The rabi paddy crop, which is at the
                                                        was boiled. It would have been ready for
       harvesting stage, also suffered damages.
                                                        shifting to the market yard in the next couple
       According to the agriculture department,         of days. But, the rain had shattered our
       mango farms suffered losses to the tune of       dreams. The turmeric would get discoloured
       Rs 100 crore, while it is Rs 60 crore for        and the price would go down. We may not
       paddy, Rs 28 crore for maize and Rs 20 crore     even get our investment,” said Nekkalapu
       for chillies.                                    Murali, a turmeric farmer from Krishna

       Malayali behind                                  first          e-book                   on
                                                        The book, Agronomy and economy of
                                                        important tree crops of the developing world
       The New Indian Express / April 25,

       KOCHI: The brain behind compiling the first      was a result of the effort of almost five years.

       electronic book on agriculture, which was        The book, which was launched in London,
       launched in London recently, is a Malayali       has since been selected by an international
       Prof Kodoth Prabhakaran Nair, a renowned         jury to be displayed in the British Library,
       agricultural scientist.                          London, and the State Congressional Library,
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       The book deals with 10 most important tree         The books are in both print and electronic
       crops of the developing world, namely,             formats, and the endusers will be students,
       arecanut, cashewnut, coconut, cinchona             both undergraduate and postgraduate of
       (from which quinine to combat malaria is           agriculture, researchers, planners and policy
       extracted), cocoa, coffee, oil palm, rubber, tea   makers from the five continents, Europe,
       and wattle (used in leather tanning).              North America, Africa, Asia and Latin
       The author traces in fifteen chapters, their
       history, geographic spread, agronomy,              Downloading from the computer is a very
       botany, biotechnology, crop improvement,           easy task than placing an order for a hard
       chemistry, nutrition, finished products,           copy and waiting for its arrival. A unique
       world trade and future prospects in an             feature of the second book will be that it will
       exhaustive manner.                                 contain an exclusive chapter on the
                                                          revolutionary soil management technique
       On the heels of the spectacular success of
                                                          which Nair has developed after more than
       this chart buster, the first electronic book in
                                                          three decades of research in Europe, Africa
       agriculture in the world, Nair, has again been
                                                          and Asia, now globally known as 'The
       commissioned to compile a second
                                                          Nutrient Buffer Power Concept'. The book is
       electronic book on two most important
                                                          expected to hit the stands by mid2012.
       world spices, black pepper and cardamom.
                                                          Nair was formerly professor with The
       The book will be titled 'The agronomy and
                                                          National Science Foundation, The Royal
       economy of black pepper and cardamom the
                                                          Society, Belgium, and Senior Fellow,
       'king' and 'queen' of spices.'
                                                          Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation, The
       The focus of Nair's endeavour will be on the       Federal Republic of Germany, and the
       same lines as in the case of the first book, in    winner of several national and international
       addition to their pharmacopoeia, with              awards.
       special reference to Kerala, where both these
       crops are extensively grown, says Nair.

       Students bring alive a lively little
       green story
                                                          A pioneer among other schools in the region
       CHANDIGARH: Setting an example for other           in eco-activism, the school harbours over
       The Times of India / April 28, 2011

       schools across the country, the Government         700 trees of different species including fruit
       Model Senior Secondary School (GMSSS),             bearing and timber yielding ones, besides
       Sector 46, has gone green in a big way.            around 300 ornamental potted plants and 71
                                                          species of medicinal herbs. Om Prakash
       Sohanjana Eco-Club of the school that boasts
       of 71 different species of medicinal plants        Manauli the teacher-incharge of the eco club
                                                          informed that the herbal garden has a range
       and over 700 trees of 37 species has been
       included in the 100 best eco clubs among           of medicinal plants ranging from herbs like
                                                          turmeric and henna to small trees like Indian
       over 1 lakh clubs across the country by the
       Ministry of Environment and Forests.               gooseberry.
                                                          "The school's eco club, Sohanjana, is named
       The school's eco club is one of the inspiring
       stories in a publication of the Ministry of        after a medicinal plant grown in the school
       Environment and Forests, which has also            which is good for controlling blood
       brought out other incredible green stories         pressure", he said.
       brought alive by the young across the              Adding to the greenery, the students of the
       country.                                           eco club have also constructed a lily pond.
                                                          The pond along with lilies hosts a variety of
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       small water plants and aquatic insects,          The school also develops eco-friendly
       besides tadpoles and frogs. Science teachers     colours for holi. The process involves
       now use it to teach students aquatic             preparation of herbal colours from naturally
       biodiversity. The eco club team has also laid    occurring ones like heena and turmeric.
       a nature trail so that students of the school
                                                        Every year the students play a eco-friendly
       could observe and study biodiversity, said
                                                        holi and the colours made by them are also
       Sudesh Raghav, the school's principal.
                                                        distributed among other schools, the
                                                        principal revealed.

       In harmony with Nature
       Easter and an overcast Sunday evening did
       The Hindu / April 26, 2011

       not deter green warriors of the city and
       outside from discussing pressing issues
       related to farming. And, spearheading that
       movement was environmental writer and
       activist Paamayan, the chief guest of Osai's
       monthly Enviro Meet. He was called to speak
       on “Ecological Principle and Agriculture
       Tradition of Tamils”.
       In a brief but eloquent and nostalgic speech
       laced with verses from the epics extolling the
       virtue of past farming techniques, he spoke
       about the need for sustained development,        Speaking about the elitist tag attached to
       going organic, and a lifestyle attuned to        organic food, Paamayan said the cost was
       Nature.                                          justified because of the work put in.

       Conservation concerns also featured              “People presume that just because you don't
       prominently in his speech, where he spoke of     invest in pesticides, organic farming is easy.
       past irrigation practices that did not depend    But, it takes twice the amount of work. And,
       on pesticides.                                   where are the subsidies?” he asked.

       Paamayan explained the ill-effects of such       Making people understand the value of
       chemicals on the environment, and the            organic produce takes time, said Paamayan.
       construction of the Grand Anaicut.               “But, one should remember that by buying
       The interactive session threw up pertinent       organic, you are not just opting for a healthy
       questions to which Paamayan had                  lifestyle, you are also protesting the march of
       convincing answers. Asked what could be          the corporates in your own way,” he said.
       done about tea estates and their effect on the   And, he cited the example of Organopónicos,
       environment, especially on bird life, pat        urban organic gardens in Cuba that help
       came the answer: “Try tea made of                produce a variety of fruits and vegetables.
       aavarampoo. “You won't know the                  Earlier, Osai screened noted wildlife
       difference.”                                     filmmaker Shekar Dattatri's “SOS-Save Our
       Genetically-modified crops, seed security,       Sholas”.
       hybrid livestock and more were discussed         The documentary throws the spotlight on
       threadbare.                                      the rich bio-diversity in the Western Ghats,
       Accessibility the key                            and is an ode to the flora and fauna that call
                                                        it home.
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       Farm produce prices soar on high
                                                         per capita income. "On the other hand,
                                                         supply has been severely af-fected by
       KOCHI: There has been an acrossthe-board
                                                         climatic variations during the last two
       The Economic Times / April 28, 2011

       increase in the prices of farm commodities
                                                         years," he said.
       from south India. This includes items of daily
       consumption such as coffee, poultry, eggs         Although price spurt in commodities such as
       and coconut oil, industrial raw materials like    spices and coconut oil was expected, the rise
       rubber, spices such as pepper, cardamom           quite sharp, said experts. "Such an increase
       and chillies, snack food like cashew nuts and     was not predicted. The industry was not
       premium food items like shrimp. Apart from        prepared to handle it. Given the current
       upsetting the family budget, the soaring          situation of demand and supply mismatch,
       prices have led to a change in buying pattern     prices are not likely to come down in the
       .                                                 immediate future," said Geemon Korah,
                                                         chairman of All India Spices Exporters
       Coffee prices have jumped from Rs 65 per kg
       in April 2010 to Rs 100 per kg in April 2011.     Forum.
       Coconut oil price went up from Rs 49 per          According to him, spice production has not
       litre to Rs 95 per litre during the period.       kept pace with demand for the last several
       Poultry prices have increased from Rs 75 per      decades. He said there needed to be a
       kg to Rs 100 per kg. The average price of an      concerted effort from all the producing
       egg rose from Rs 2.17 to Rs 2.23. Supply          countries to raise productivity , quantity and
       constraints pushed the price of rubber up         quality of spices. But the price rise seems to
       from Rs 168.50 per kg in April 2010 to Rs         have benefitted farmers. Satheesh Babu said,,
       239.50 in April 2011. Pepper prices rose          "farmers have benefited from the higher
       from Rs 159 per kg to Rs 276 per kg on            prices of agricultural commodities" . He
       similar concerns.                                 pointed out that the profit share varies from
       Cashew nut saw a sharp increase from Rs           one commodity to another depending on the
       265 per kg to Rs 450 per kg. Chilli prices rose   nature of the marketing intermediary net-
       from Rs 55 per kg to Rs 90 while shrimp           work
       price shot up from Rs 350 per kg to Rs 380        A steep climb in prices could ultimately lead
       per kg. Speaking to ET, Dr KK George,             to consumer resis-tance . He said this has
       chairman of the Centre for Socio-Economic &       happened in the case of cardamom in
       Environmental Studies (CSES), said domestic       overseas markets. Consumer resistance
       prices depend on international market             could also lead to a change in buying pattern
       dynamics in commodities such as rubber and        as consumer opt for lower grade products,
       pepper. "This is especially true when the         said George. For example, coconut oil prices
       domestic production is only a small               zoomed to a new peak last year and retail
       percentage of the international production,"      prices went past Rs 100 per kg for the first
       he said. Dr Satheesh Babu, professor,             time. This led to a preference for cheaper
       Agriculture Market Intelligence Centre,           cooking oils in Kerala where coconut oil is
       Kerala Agriculture University (KAU),              the principal cooking oil. The prices of
       explained that the price rise was also the        coconuts used for oil extraction have also
       result of a widening demand-supply gap.           shot up.
       Demand has been consistently increasing
       due to the burgeoning population and higher
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       Biological control a safe component
       of IPM
                                                          thuringiensis (B.t.) and B.Popillae are
                                                          common examples. Disease causing agents of
       Biological control means use of living
                                                          pests can be mass multiplied in the
       The Hindu / April 20, 2011

       organisms to manage crop damaging living
                                                          laboratory at a low cost in liquid or
       organisms (pests). Some of the common
       biocontrol agents are Parasitoids                  powdered formulations.
                                                          These formulations are called biopesticides
       These are the organisms which lay eggs in or       and can be sprayed like ordinary chemical
       on the bodies of their hosts and complete          pesticides.
       their life cycles on host bodies. As a result of   Conservation
       this, the hosts die. A parasitoid may be of
                                                          This is the most important component of
       different type depending on the host
                                                          biological control and plays a major role in
       developmental stage in or on which it
                                                          pest suppression. In this process, natural
       completes its life cycle.
                                                          enemies present in nature are protected
       For example, egg, larval, pupal, adult, egg-       from being killed. The different practices
       larval and larval pupal parasitoids. Examples      required to protect the natural enemies are
       are different species of Trichogramma,             as below.
       Apanteles, bracon, Chelonus, Brachemeria,
                                                          - Collection of parasitized egg masses and
                                                          placing them in bamboo cage-cum-bird
                                                          perches for allowing emergence of
       These are free living organisms which prey         parasitoids and withholding of pest larvae.
       upon other organisms for their food.
                                                          - Chemical spray should be adopted as last
       Examples are different species of spiders,
       dragon flies, damsel flies, lady bird beetles,     resort . Only selective and relatively
                                                          environmental friendly (REF) pesticide
       chrysopa spp, birds etc.
                                                          should be used where necessary.
       Pathogens such as fungi, viruses and bacteria
                                                          - As far as possible strip or spot application
       cause diseases in their hosts as a result of
       which hosts are killed. Some nematodes also        of pesticides is to be carried out. Adjustment
                                                          of time of sowing and harvesting to avoid the
       cause diseases in some insect pests.
                                                          peak season of pest attack.
       Among viruses, most important examples
                                                          - Growing trap crop and inter-cropping also
       are of nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) and
       granulosis viruses. Among bacteria, Bacillus       help in conservation of defenders.

       In this method the farmer does not pay the         “It is very common to see members working
       labourers in cash but instead returns the          for eight to nine hours on a labour sharing
       labour day to the member farmer, by                day to complete the work,” he explains.
       working in his farm, according to Mr.
                                                          For more details visit
                                                          and contact Dr. L. H. Manjunath, Executive
       “In the process, the affinity between the          Director, SKDRDP, Dharmasthala, email:
       members of the group becomes stronger,   ,            mobile:
       they learn from each other, they help each         09448469009, phone: 08256-277215.
       other in times of crisis.
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       Commercial farming of Golden Rice
       in 2 years
                                                           The other possibility is to create           a
                                                           distributed presence in India,” he said.
       Hyderabad: After years of waiting, farmers in
       Business Line / April 10, 2011

       the Asian countries could hope for sowing           Mr Zeigler was here to attend the 46th
       Golden Rice in the next few seasons. “The           Annual Rice Research Group meeting at the
       Golden Rice project is moving on well. An           Directorate of Rice Research (DRR). He said
       important announcement will come on this            the global outlook for rice was good
       later this month. We have undertaken field          assuming there was good weather. Stocks
       trials at various locations. It is going on very    were adequate if not abundant.
       well,” said Mr Robert S. Zeigler, Director-
                                                           Earlier addressing the gathering of rice
       General of International Rice Research
                                                           scientists and private industry, he said the
       Institute (IRRI).
                                                           food security of India was food security of
       Addressing reporters here on Saturday, he           the world. “If India is not food secure, the
       said the rice strain fortified with Vitamin-A       world is not,” he said, pointing out the recent
       was critical to address the micro-nutrient          Census estimated population figure at 1.2
       needs of hundreds of thousands of poor              billion.
       children in the world.
                                                           Mr Zeigler and other speakers, who included
       “It will be available for commercial farming        Dr Swapan Kumar Datta Deputy Director-
       in two years. It first will be launched in the      General of ICAR, highlighted the focus on
       Philippines and then in Bangladesh,” he said.       East India to grow rice. They pointed out that
                                                           traditional areas such as Punjab and Haryana
       India centre
                                                           reached stagnation and the East promised a
       IRRI engaged in talks with ICAR (Indian             good alternative with abundant availability
       Council of Agriculture Research) to set up a        of water.
       research centre in Hyderabad. “One
       possibility is to create a centre in Hyderabad.

       Scientists don’t want more tests,
       back ‘limited release’
       In the first official meeting of scientists after   authority, Genetic Engineering Approval
       The Indian Express / April 28, 2011

       an indefinite moratorium was placed on the          Committee (GEAC), had given its go-ahead.
       commercialisation of genetically-modified
                                                           The majority of about 25 scientists present
       brinjal in February 2010, a number of
                                                           at Wednesday’s meeting, including some
       experts on Wednesday argued against the
                                                           members of GEAC, agreed that the safety of
       need for carrying out any further tests and
                                                           Bt gene in brinjal had been established by
       favoured a ‘limited and partial release’ of Bt
                                                           the tests that had already been done and that
       brinjal under strict regulatory conditions.
                                                           more time must not be lost in conducting
       This meeting of scientists was suggested by         more tests and field trials. Some of them
       Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in his           were of the opinion that in case additional
       February 9, 2010 order putting an indefinite        tests are indeed to be done, then they should
       hold on the release of Bt brinjal for               be done in parallel with a limited release of
       cultivation, even after the top regulatory          the crop for cultivation, some scientists who
                                                           were present at the meeting said.
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        “The idea is that further delays must be          brinjal on human health, said there was
       avoided. Every test that needed to be done         nothing such as a ‘limited release’.
       has already been done. But the controversy
                                                          “A limited release is just not possible. How is
       surrounding Bt brinjal appears to have left
                                                          it to be controlled? How do you pull it back if
       some lingering doubt among the public
                                                          something goes wrong? People are talking
       about the safety of this crop. If carrying out
                                                          about a regulatory supervision? But who is
       more tests, as suggested by some, is the only
                                                          going to act as the regulator? In any case, the
       way to address these concerns, then let these
                                                          minister (Jairam) had ruled out a limited
       tests be done in parallel with a limited
                                                          release in his order,” Bhargava said.
       release,” said a scientist, who did not wish to
       be named. However, Dr P M Bhargava, who            The experts who attended the meeting will
       has been demanding further tests, mainly           now send their opinion in writing to the
       relating to the long-term impacts of Bt            GEAC chairman who is likely to call another
                                                          such meeting in the next couple of months.

       Agri reforms panel wants push to
       contract farming
       Chandigarh: The panel appointed by the
       Business Standard / April 28, 2011

       Union agriculture ministry to suggest
       reforms in marketing of farm produce will
       suggest that states governments reduce the
       security deposit for the contract farming.
       It will also ask for changes in the Agricultural
       Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) law
       to incorporate private players in providing
       infrastructure in this regard. The committee,      The corporates refrained due to unsuitable
       chaired by Maharashtra’s minister for              tax structure and high default fee,” said an
       marketing and cooperation, Harshvardhan            official in the Haryana Mandi Board.
       Patil, would be soon presenting its first set of   Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Punjab also allow
       recommendations.                                   contract farming. Sources told Business
       It is learnt the committee has suggested all       Standard 18 amendments have been
       states slash the ‘default security’, an amount     suggested in the APMC Act. So far, 16 states
       equivalent to a certain percentage of the          have accepted the Model APMC Act framed
       purchase value that is distributed among           by the central government and it was under
       farmers in case the buyer refuses to               consideration in seven states. The committee
       purchase the produce as contracted.                is also exploring the feasibility of involving
                                                          private     companies     for     post-harvest
       According to sources, Haryana is likely to do      infrastructure for perishables, specially cold
       this, by reducing the requisite security from      chains and logistics, on a public-private-
       15 per cent of the estimated purchase value        partnership model. The committee wishes
       to five per cent.                                  farmers to have a choice on where to sell
       The state allowed contract farming in 2008.        their produce, instead of being forced to do
       Since then, only United Breweries has              so at a single place.
       ventured, engaging about 5,500 acres for
       barley cultivation.”
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       Scientific resources at district level
       to boost agri output
       The Union Agriculture Ministry has               paddy production. As part of this exercise, it
       The Times of India / April 25, 2011

       nominated scientists belonging to the ICAR       has identified 70 districts across the seven
       and state agricultural universities as           states.
       resource-persons in 70 districts of eastern
                                                        It now plans to station scientists in these
       India in an attempt to give a fillip to the
                                                        districts.The officers, to be designated as
       Centre’s ambitious programme of extending
                                                        “district-level scientific resource,’’ would be
       the benefits of green revolution to the
                                                        expected to assist in the delivery of technical
                                                        inputs to the farmers. Union Agriculture
       With paddy and rice production in Punjab         Secretary PK Basu has personally written
       and Haryana showing signs of plateauing, the     letters to these 70 scientists, underlining the
       government has been forced to turn its gaze      work expected of them. A set of guidelines
       towards the eastern states of Bihar,             were attached along with these letters.
       Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and
                                                        The government has identified three main
       Chhattisgarh to augment production of the
                                                        programmes as part of this exercise, asking
       two commodities. Finance Minister Pranab
                                                        the states to finalise their own action plans
       Mukherjee, while presenting the general
                                                        to execute them.
       Budget for the year 2011-12, had allocated
       an additional . 400 crore under the Rashtriya    They include demonstration of proven
       Krishi Vikas Yojana for extending green          technologies appropriate to different
       revolution to the region.                        ecologies in compact blocks of 1,000
                                                        hectares, in which farmers would be given
       As part of this endeavour, the government
                                                        free of cost the inputs and the extension
       had in December, 2009, set up an inter-
                                                        services from land preparation to harvest
       ministerial     task    force  under     the
                                                        operation; asset building (creating new
       chairmanship of the Union agriculture
                                                        shallow tubewells, dug wells or bore-wells,
       secretary “to suggest short and medium-
                                                        provisioning water pumps, seed drills, drum
       term measures on efficient management of
                                                        seeders); and site-specific activities.
       water, power and other inputs to maximise
       agricultural production on sustainable basis,    “In addition to these interventions, more
       especially in eastern India.’’                   focus would be given to the region under our
                                                        ongoing agriculture development schemes
       In its report, the task-force had emphasised,
                                                        such as National Food Security Mission,
       besides the promotion of efficiency in water
                                                        macro-management of agriculture, micro-
       management,        encouraging     innovative
                                                        irrigation and RKVY,’’ Basu said.
       precision farming practices in consultation
                                                        The scientists are also expected to help the
       with the state governments. Under this
       programme, the government is giving              farmers by advising them on technology-
       primary importance to the task of increasing     transfer.

       Punjab farmers                                  shift           to          manual
                                                        is not by compulsion, but as a matter of
       Punjab: Farming in Punjab is going back to       choice.
       Business Standard / April 20, 2011

       the old days of manual harvesting. And that      As fodder prices have almost doubled in the
                                                        last few months, more and more farmers in
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       the state are opting for the traditional          same goes up to almost 20-23 quintals when
       manual method of harvesting the standing          harvesting is done manually.
       wheat crop as the fodder output through this
                                                         “Demand for dry fodder has gone up
       method is almost 130-140 per cent more
                                                         significantly in the last one –year largely
       than the mechanized harvesters. This has
                                                         from Rajasthan, due to which farmers are
       also been one of the main causes for delay in
                                                         opting to harvest wheat manually,” said
       arrival of wheat in major mandis (wholesale
                                                         Darchan Singh, a farmer from Bhatinda
       markets) of Punjab.
                                                         district of Punjab told Business Standard. He
       According to officials, wheat procurement in      said though cost of manual harvesting is
       Punjab mandis till last week was estimated        much more for farmers, but the benefits far
       to be around 83,219 tonnes, down from             outstrip the cost.
       313,000 tonnes procured during the same
                                                         “A mechanized harvester usually charges
       time last year. With government agencies
                                                         around Rs 700 for an acre of land, which for
       purchasing almost 97 per cent of the total
                                                         manual harvesting goes up to almost Rs
       arrivals, figures of procurement also show
                                                         2,000-Rs 2,500 per acre, but it is still
       the extent of delayed arrivals.
                                                         affordable given the high rate of fodder,” he
       Price of dry fodder, which was around Rs          said.
       150-200 a quintal six-seven months back,
                                                         Hartej Singh, another farmer from Mehta
       has jumped to almost Rs 400-500 a quintal.
                                                         village said though labour charges have risen
       Harvesting through mechanized harvester
                                                         manifold in Punjab in the last few years, but
       produce around 8-10 quintals of dry fodder
                                                         still many farmers are favouring manual
       from an acre of land under wheat, while the
                                                         harvesting as it is gives better returns and is
                                                         environment friendly.

       Haryana only state to issue soil
       health cards
       Sirsa: If Gujarat has the distinction of
       The Tribue / April 18, 2011

       achieving a record 9.6 per cent growth in
       agriculture, Haryana has the unique feature
       of being the only state in the country which
       has issued soil health cards to its farmers
       and has soil fertility maps for its entire
       agriculture land in the state.
       The soil fertility maps are available with the
       agriculture authorities up to the village level
       and these are global positioning system
       (GPS) enabled and available online on the
       website of the Agriculture Department,            From the soil health card of his land, a
       Haryana.                                          farmer can know the condition of his land
       The department has roped in the services of       and get crop specific prescription as to which
       the Indian Space Research Organisation            and how much manure and fertilisers are
       (ISRO) for this purpose.                          needed.
       The soil fertility maps reveal the fertility      “There are 15.84 lakh farming families in
       condition of the given agriculture land and       Haryana. Of these, the department has
       also disclose deficiencies of minerals and        already taken 10 lakh soils samples and
       micronutrients, if any.                           issued them soil health cards after testing
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       these samples in the 30 laboratories               The Haryana model was now being
       functioning in the state,” said Ashok Kumar        replicated by Jharkhand, Bihar, UP and
       Yadav,     Director-General,      Agriculture      Rajasthan, he said.
       Department, Haryana.
                                                          Yadav said based on the village-level fertility
       Of these 30 laboratories, 13 are equipped          maps available with the authorities, the state
       with facilities for testing micronutrients.        government had planned a two-pronged
       Based on the soil health cards of particular       strategy to improve the health of the soil as
       areas, soil fertility maps have been prepared      well as to deter farmers from going after the
       to provide information about the soil              “water guzzling” summer paddy, also called
       condition of the entire agriculture land of        “saathi”.
                                                          The department had been supplying seeds of
       When Gujarat surprised all by recording an         “summer moong” to farmers on a 50 per cent
       agriculture growth of 9.6 per cent - almost        subsidy so that they could utilise their land
       three times the national average - Haryana         for the “intermittent two months” available
       sent a team to study the agriculture model in      to them before the plantation of paddy.
       that state.
                                                          “Summer moong”, being a leguminous plant,
       “After going through the Gujarat model, we         has nitrogen-fixing qualities and hence
       have found that our own Haryana model was          improves the soil health.
       much better than that state,” Yadav said and
                                                          The department is also distributing seeds of
       clarified that the better agriculture growth of
                                                          “dencha”, which though is a weed, fixes
       Gujarat was because they started from
                                                          nitrogen in the soil and functions as a green
       almost zero, while Haryana was already a
                                                          manure for the next crop.
       leader with Punjab in the matter of Green

       Sweet solution: Sugarcane helps cool
       Washington: Sugarcane is not only a major
       The Times of India / April 18, 2011

       source for producing a biofuel alternative to
       gasoline, but also helps in cooling the climate
       if cultivated in a massive scale, according to a
       new study.
       Scientists from the Carnegie Institution’s
       Department of Global Ecology found the
       important agro-industrial plants help lower
       the temperature of the surrounding air by
       reflecting sunlight back into space and
       “exhaling” cooler water. The research,
       published online in the journal Nature
       Climate Change, is the first to quantify the
       direct effects on the climate from sugarcane       temperature, reflectivity (also called albedo),
       expansion in areas of existing crop and            and evapotranspiration — the water loss
       pastureland of the Cerrado region in Brazil.       from the soil and from plants as they exhale
       For their study, the researchers used data         water vapour.
       from hundreds of satellite images over 1.9         Scott Loarie, who led the research, said: “We
       million sq km.            They measured            found that shifting from natural vegetation
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       to crops or pasture results in local warming     “But sugarcane is more reflective and gives
       because the plants give off less beneficial      off more water — much like the natural
       water.                                           vegetation.” PTI

       High-yielding aromatic rice variety
       The New Indian Express / April 16,

       CUTTACK: Even as agriculture in the State is     been 1.7 tonne per hectare against the

       faced with a serious problem of low              national average of 2.27 tonne per hectare.
       productivity and profitability, the Central
                                                        “There is an urgent need to increase
       Rice Research Institute (CRRI) here is set to
                                                        productivity by promoting and popularising
       bring out a slew of high-yielding cross-bred
                                                        high-yield varieties. The CRRI has already
       aromatic rice varieties in the next few years.
                                                        developed premium non-basmati scented
       With Geographical Indication Tagging             rice varieties like Ketekijoha, Nua Kalajeera
       (GITag) prohibiting basmati rice cultivation     and Nua Dhusura which have gained
       in non-designated areas like Orissa, the focus   popularity. Addition of new aromatic
       is on developing non-basmati short-grained       varieties for different ecological situations
       aromatic rice varieties with high yield.         and cropping pattern is the need of the
       Scientists are crossing the genes of high-       hour,” Dr Ahya said.
       yielding strains with the local indigenous
                                                        The CRRI today announced that two new
       aromatic ones to come up with the desired
                                                        high yielding rice varieties CR Dhan 500 and
                                                        CR Dhan 300 are ready for release. The
       “There has been a significant progress and       varieties have been approved by the All India
       we expect to release two or three varieties in   Coordinated Rice Improvement Project in
       the next three years,” CRRI Director Dr TK       the recent meeting in Hyderabad on April 9
       Adhya told this paper today.                     and are awaiting clearance from the Central
                                                        Variety Identification Committee. The
       The objective is to augment the economic
                                                        clearance is expected to be accorded in the
       status of the rice farmers by providing them
                                                        next two-three months and they would be
       with good quality aromatic rice breeds with
                                                        formally released.
       high yields. Demand for aromatic rice is
       growing manifold but indigenous varieties        CR Dhan 500 has been developed for the
       are hindered by low productivity. Enhancing      deep water ecosystems of Orissa and Uttar
       yield while retaining the aromatic qualities     Pradesh. It has a moderate resistance to pest
       would increase profitability to the farmers.     infestations and diseases and would give an
                                                        yield of 4 tonne per hectare (tpha). CR Dhan
       Orissa, with 29 lakh hectare under rice
                                                        300 is for irrigated shallow rain-fed
       cultivation has lagged behind in productivity
                                                        lowlands and would yield upwards of 5 tpha.
       and thus farmers continue to be under
                                                        It is suitable for agricultural systems in
       severe strain. Average yield of the State has
                                                        states like Orissa, Maharashtra, Bihar and

       Bring in ever-green revolution with
                                                        transgenics has led to the country being
       COIMBATORE: Application of science and           transformed from a “begging bowl to a bread
                                                        basket”, W. Selvamurthy, Distinguished
       The Hindu / April 13, 2011

       technology in the form of hybrids to
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       Scientist and Chief Controller (R&D), Defence    was still lagging behind in productivity. The
       and Research Development Organisation,           gap could be addressed by nano-science and
       said here on Thursday.                           technology. K. Shanmugam, State Principal
                                                        Secretary (Finance), said though the position
       Only evergreen revolution brought about
                                                        of food grains was quite comfortable in India,
       with the help of nano-science and technology
                                                        it could be considered too safe. “The price of
       could ensure this, he said at a national
                                                        wheat is at an all time high in the U.S. Food
       seminar on ‘Nano-technology for Enhancing
                                                        riots are occurring in African countries.
       Food Security' at the Tamil Nadu
                                                        China is looking for wheat and corn. It is not
       Agricultural University (TNAU) jointly
                                                        enough if we are self-sufficient while other
       organised by Department of Nano-Science
                                                        parts of the world are not,” Mr. Shanmugam
       and Technology, Directorate of Natural
                                                        said. With the world population looking to
       Resource Management, and TNAU.
                                                        increase from six billion to nine billion by
       Though there was research going on in nano-      2040, and the food requirement expected to
       science and technology, Mr. Selvamurthy          double in 50 years, where would food to feed
       said there was no integration among studies      these people come from? he wondered. As of
       of academic institutions, government R&D         October 2010, one of out seven people in the
       institutes and industry. For development and     world was facing hunger. Nano-technology
       application of nano-science and technology,      had to focus on these problems, he added.
       a national policy should be evolved, he
                                                        P. Murugesa Boopathi, TNAU Vice-Chancellor
                                                        said: “A grant of Rs. 10 crore has been
       “The market for nano-science is $300             allotted by the Indian Council of Agricultural
       million. By 2040, it is going to be $35,000      Research to TNAU to set up a facility, and 12
       million. India is also investing in nano-        faculty members have been trained in the
       science and technology. But our investment       Cornell University in the U.S. The university
       is in the form of intellect rather than the      has also invested over Rs. 20 crore in eight
       capital,” he said.                               research projects like nano-fertilizer,
       Though India was in the top three places in      herbicides, soil and water remediation,
       production of certain agricultural produce, it   biosensors, etc,” he added.

       Kisan      Call    Centre     redresses
       difficulties of four lakh farmers
       Bhopal: The Kisan Call Centre has redressed
                                                        The Kisan Call Centre set up at Gangotri
       Central Chronicle / April 11, 2011

       problems of about four lakh farmers so far.
                                                        Bhavan, Bhopal, is a unique farmers’ call
       During the last 31 months, the Kisan Call
                                                        centre in the entire country. It has been set
       Centre    has   given agriculture-related
                                                        up by Madhya Pradesh Farmers’ Welfare and
       information to three lakh 92 thousand 654
                                                        Agriculture Development Department with
       farmers and redressed the difficulties of two
                                                        the cooperation of Indian Society of Agri
       lakh 15 thousand 393 agriculturists.
                                                        Business Professionals. At present, 30
       Information about mandi rates and state
                                                        experts of the subject are posted at the call
       government’s welfare schemes was also
                                                        centre and are playing important role in
       given by the call centre to one lakh 15
                                                        redressing farmers’ problems.
       thousand horticulturists, 15 thousand 816
       animal rearers and 46 thousand 103               The experts are providing information from
       farmers.                                         7 am to7 pm about methods of increasing
                                                        yields of various crops, selection of right
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       varieties for     sowing,   insecticides   and      agriculture profitable and decreasing the use
       pesticides etc.                                     of chemical fertilisers. Farmers are told
                                                           about making organic insecticides as well
       The experts are also drawing farmers’
                                                           which can be prepared through a judicious
       attention towards soil degradation due to
                                                           mix of cow urine, butter milk, leaves of neem
       overuse of chemical fertilisers and ways are
                                                           and other vegetables. All these ingredients
       being suggested to increase soil fertility
                                                           are easily available in the rural areas. The
       through organic farming. The experts are
                                                           Kisan Call Centre is also guiding farmers on
       also informing farmers about various
                                                           harvesting, thrashing and storage of rabi
       welfare schemes launched for them and how
                                                           crops. The Kisan Call Centre’s toll-free
       they can avail these schemes’ benefits.
                                                           number is 1800-233-4433.
       Farmers are being motivated to adopt
       organic farming with a view to making

       Haryana-Israel                                    panel             to             boost
       agriculture ties
       The Financial Express / April 14,

       Chandigarh: Haryana and Israel agreed to
                                                           Listing out the areas in which there could be

       constitute working groups to strengthen
                                                           extended cooperation, the CM said Haryana
       agricultural cooperation. Haryana chief
                                                           needed planting material from Israel. At the
       minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who held a
                                                           Centre of Excellence for Fruits, planting
       meeting with MK minister of agriculture and
                                                           material is imported for plantation.
       rural development of Israel Orit Noked in Tel
                                                           However, some varieties are not being
       Aviv, took initiatives on the suggestion from
                                                           imported due to the varietal restrictions
       Noked. Roshan Lal, state financial
                                                           imposed by Israel. Their performance being
       commissioner and principal secretary
                                                           excellent according to global standards,
       (agriculture) to head the working group with
                                                           these varieties may be allowed to Haryana.
       vice-chancellor of CCS Haryana Agricultural
       University, Hisar as it members, Hooda said.        The CM saught additional varieties of citrus;
                                                           olives, pomegranate, mango and grapes. He
       Hooda sought latest Israeli technology on
                                                           asked Israel to depute experts at the Centre
       water conservation, water harvesting, drip
                                                           of Excellence for Vegertables to facilitate and
       and sprinkler irrigation and asked Noked for
                                                           ensure        continuous        technological
       extended      co-operation     for    boosting
                                                           upgradation of various crops. He also sought
       agricultural and horticultural production in
                                                           experts for high-tech seedling production;
       the state. The CM invited Israel to set up
                                                           for application of know-how for soiless
       units in Haryana for the manufacture of
                                                           production of tomato, cucumber and
       plastic films or material, used in poly houses
                                                           capsicum; and for post-harvest management
       and net houses to make cheap material to
                                                           handling of produce during production
       the growers.
       “I would like to emphasise that since water
                                                           Hooda invited Israel to set up manufacturing
       conservation and water harvesting are areas
                                                           units in Haryana for plastic films/ material
       of prime concern in the water-deficit
                                                           used in poly houses and net houses so that
       agrarian Haryana, we would like to seek
                                                           the material may be made available to
       latest Israeli technology in these fields. Of
                                                           growers at affordable prices. He also sought
       special interest and significance to us are the
                                                           mechanisation/machinery for post-harvest
       Israeli systems of drip and sprinkler
                                                           management and processing; collaboration
       irrigation which would enable the farmers of
                                                           for setting up organic centre; bee centre for
       Haryana to irrigate more areas with less
                                                           breeding, production and training; and
       water”, Hooda added.
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       support for setting up a Centre of Excellence       The Centre of Excellence for Fruits would
       for flowers in Haryana.                             facilitate introduction of new varieties, help
                                                           extend fruiting period, solve problems
       “I am sure the government of Israel will be
                                                           related to root stock, and enable the farmers
       forthcoming in further extending its hand of
                                                           to carve a niche for themselves in domestic
       help and cooperation to enable Haryana to
                                                           and export markets. Since high-density
       play a pivotal role in boosting agricultural
                                                           plantation holds the key to high production
       and horticultural production to satisfy the
                                                           and productivity per unit area, he suggested
       needs of its people, and of those in the NCR
                                                           some interventions.
       where the state occupies a pride of place”, he

       Farmers' organisations can play a
       more constructive role

        “On trying to compile an endless suffering
       The Hindu / Arpil 1, 2011

       that farmers need to bear, one is left
       wondering if there exists a magic pill that
       can solve their problems,” says Mr. Ajay Vir
       Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj,
       New Delhi.
       The biggest bane of the farmers according to
       him, “is that they vote on caste or religious
       lines, nudged by political leaders and later
       expect the government to deliver their needs
       as a community of farmers. Unfortunately,
       today, dearth of farmer leaders exists in all-
       political parties. Leaders represent their own
       individual communities and castes to win
       their elections,” he says.                          no point should this be mistaken to
                                                           represent absence of good organisations.”
       Surprisingly, more than a farmer, it is the         There are several organisations doing a good
       Need for awareness

       policy makers who need to be educated -             job, but are less known, as they work for the
       especially on marketing - because their             welfare of farmers and are not in the
       decisions determine a farmer's future.              business of publicity. These groups are
       “Over the years, a number of farmers'               nearly lost in the vast ocean of namesake
       organizations are becoming either offshoots         farmers' welfare organisations, according to
       of political parties or politically aligned. As a   Mr. Ajay.
       consequence, these become mouthpieces of
       political groups,” adds Mr. Ajay.                   “Everyone criticises aloud to get noticed,” he
                                                           Self propagation

       Being dependent on one party or the other,          stresses. No doubt, criticism being valuable,
       (as is usually the case), an organisation           gets public attention in the society, increases
       becomes more active during opposition rule.         TV ratings, garners support, and eventually
                                                           money and position.
       Because of this, several groups are becoming
       inherently seasonal, agitating, channelising        At most seminars, farmer meets, and debates
       pent up frustration and anger against the           on agriculture, we find people projecting
       government of the day,” he says and adds “at        themselves, highlighting faults in sight.
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       Positive discussions are a rarity, seems to be   “It becomes difficult to evaluate resultant
       his view.                                        gains or quantify the benefits. Funding
                                                        obviously remains a major hurdle for those
       “Even though most agitations that hold up        doing good work,” he adds.
       More influence

       the roads and block traffic are for a farmer     The Panchayati Raj today acts like a double
       related cause, they do not achieve much. The     edged sword — providing much needed
       farmers in the U.S. wield more influence on      empowerment and benefits to the rural
       the government policy because they are           community on the one hand, and on the
       better organised to look after their own         other destroying the social harmony in the
       interests,” he says.                             villages .
       Though 70 per cent of the farmers in India       “It acts to divide farmers on political lines by
       are women, very few admit women                  pitting one against the other in every street,
       members, and even fewer shoulder                 to the point that farmer solidarity may be
       constitutional responsibilities in their         lost for ever,” regrets Mr. Ajay
       respective setups.
       Farmers' organisations can play a vital role     The possibilities of various positive roles
                                                        Several possibilities

       on two fronts: First enlighten the farmers'      that an organisation can play today to ease
       about wrong policies affecting them; and         the farmers' suffering are endless if we vote
       two, dissect information of best available       on issues that benefit us irrespective of
       agriculture practices so that the farmer can     political affiliations, rather than on our
       make an informed decision for adoption.          vested ideologies, local and sectarian
                                                        interests, according to him.
       The value of good communication,                 For more details contact Mr. Ajay Vir Jakhar,
       Communication value

       pressurising policymakers, awareness and         Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, A-1
       information access to farmers cannot be          Nizamuddin West, New Delhi-110013,
       underestimated, according to Mr. Ajay. , phones: 011– 46121708
                                                        and 65650384.

       Tackling root knot nematode in
                                                        the eggs and move through the soil in search
       Carrot is adversely affected by several pests,   of suitable host plants.
       The Hindu / April 7, 2011

       diseases and nematodes. Among them               They usually penetrate the host roots just
       northern root knot nematodes, Meloidogyne        behind the root tip region and establish their
       hapla poses a serious threat to carrot           special permanent feeding sites (giant cells)
       cultivation in hilly region as it is able to     on the vascular tissues of the root.
       survive in low temperature.                      Provide nutrients
       Primary symptom
                                                        The giant cells provide nutrients for the
       The primary symptom is the formation of          sedentary nematodes which continue to
       galls on side roots of tubers, formation of      feed, enlarge and moult three times.
       forked roots, split carrot tubers and spindle-
                                                        Root cells around the feeding sites are also
       shaped enlargements on tap and side roots
                                                        induced to enlarge and form galls and often
       causing yield losses.
                                                        extensive secondary root formation and
       The root-knot nematodes complete most of         branching of the main root is seen.
       their life cycle within their host roots. The
                                                        Depending upon the host and soil
       infective second stage juveniles hatch from
                                                        temperature, the entire life cycle may be
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       completed in 35 to 60 days. Mature females       and Neem cake at 500kg/ha at the time of
       deposit eggs (550 to 1000) on the root           the ploughing.
                                                        — Soil application of Azospirillum and
       The nematodes damage the xylem vessels           Phosphobacteria at 2kg/ha each at the time
       and affect the uptake of water and nutrients.    of the sowing.
       Apart from these injuries caused to root,
                                                        — Rotation of carrot with non host/ poor
       they facilitate easy entry of other soil borne
                                                        crops like spinach, radish, barley and wheat.
       pathogens which cause root dieback disease.
       Management                                       — Soil application of Pseudomonas
                                                        fluorescens at 2.5kg/ha mixed with 50 kg of
       — Summer ploughing and exposing the soil
                                                        FYM and application of carbofuran 3G at
       to sun prior to planting for 1-2 months.
       — Growing crops such as marigold. Soil
       application of Farm Yard Manure at 20 t/ha

       Broccoli, lettuce grow well in Kerala
       plains: KAU
       The Hindu / April 19, 2011

       THRISSUR:     The     Kerala  Agricultural
       University (KAU) has good news for broccoli
       and lettuce lovers. The cool-season
       vegetables can be grown successfully in the
       State between November and February,
       according to KAU's Department of
       “With the introduction of tropical hybrid
       varieties of cool season vegetables such as
       cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, radish and beet
       root, they have been successfully grown in
       the plains of the State. The Department of       potent anti-cancer properties such as
       Olericulture has grown them in Vellanikkara.     diindolylmethane. “The crop can be
       Till recently, cabbage and cauliflower could     cultivated in the plains of the State in winter.
       be cultivated in the State only in the hill      In field trials conducted at KAU, seeds were
       tracts of Idukki or Wayanad. Preliminary         sown in a nursery and seedlings
       trials in KAU point out that broccoli and        transplanted in November into a farm. The
       lettuce too grow well in the plains,” say K.     spacing of transplantation was 45x45cm.
       Krishnakumary and T. E. George of the            The crop responded well to organic
       Department of Olericulture.                      manures. The hybrid variety C.B.H.1 grown
       Broccoli is a type of cultivated cabbage         in KAU was harvested 50 to 60 days after
       (Brassica oleracea) grown for edible             transplanting,” says Dr. Krishnakumary.
       immature flowers. Winter broccoli has large,     Researchers at the University of Newcastle in
       white heads. Sprouting broccoli (calabrese)      New South Wales recently developed a pill
       produces small, purplish, green or white         designed to harness the cancer-fighting
       spears.                                          properties of broccoli.
       Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary        A study stated that two compounds found in
       fibre. It contains multiple nutrients with       the vegetables - indole-3-carbinol and
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       sulforaphane - helped lower the risk of colon
       cancer. Similarly, researchers with the
       University of Illinois at Chicago have
       designed a chemical compound based on a
       naturally occurring anti-cancer agent found
       in the vegetable.
       Low-calorie food
       The numerous cultivars of lettuce, an
       important salad plant, have been divided
       into two main groups: cos, with upright
       heads of crisp oblong leaves, and the cabbage
       types with broadly rounded leaves.
       Lettuce is a low calorie food and a source of
       vitamin A and folic acid. “Lettuce seeds were
       sown in a KAU nursery during October and
       seedlings were transplanted after four
       weeks. The spacing of transplantation was
       45x30cm. The plant attained harvest
       maturity by 30 to 40 days with full
       development of leaves,” says Dr. George.
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