2016: రెండేళ్ళ తెలంగాణా వ్యవసాయ రంగం: సవాళ్ళు పరిష్కారాలు

తెలంగాణా విద్య వంతుల వేదిక సెమినార్ లో సమర్పించిన వ్యాసం

160605 two years of telangana 2.0

సెమినార్ లో సమర్పించిన ఇతర వ్యాసాలు

TVV Final

 

Farmers Tax Exempt—So Is Company With Rs 215-Cr Profit

farm_620

It’s reasonably well known that income from agriculture attracts no tax in India.

What isn’t quite as well known is that of more than 400,000 taxpayers claiming exemption for agricultural income in the assessment year 2014-15, the biggest were seed giant Kaveri Seeds—it claimed Rs 186.63 crore exemption and made a profit of Rs 215.36 crore before tax—and multinational Monsanto India, which claimed Rs 94.40 crore as exemption from agricultural income and earned Rs 138.74 crore profit before tax.

Agro-companies growing crops are allowed the same tax relief as individuals in states levying no agricultural income tax, although some states do indeed tax some kinds of farming.

“Allowing big farmers—individuals or companies farming more than say 30 acres—agricultural income-tax exemption makes no sense,” said R Durairaj, CEO and founder,Mother India Farms, an organic farm. Durairaj farms 200 acres of family land and supports agricultural-income-tax reform—although he does not pay any tax on his agricultural income.

On 39 million Indians, falls the country’s tax burden

The rural crises that beset India are unprecedented this century, but agriculture also hides a number of companies and rich farmers, whom no finance minister will tax–although with their numbers declining, as we shall see, these are reasonably easy to identify.

“Agricultural income is exempt from taxation in spite of large agricultural holdings,” said the 2014 Third Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) report. “…a large number of rich farmers, who earn more than salaried employees in the cities, get away with paying no tax at all in view of the government’s lack of will to consider an agricultural income tax.”

Taxing large agriculturists would help widen India’s taxpayer base—as the 2016 Economic Survey recommended—beyond the current 5.5%, or 39 million earning individuals, who pay tax.

The aversion to taxing agriculture is the fallout of a colonial experience when farmers were taxed, but it is not very widely know that some states do indeed tax some farms.

Why agriculture has–largely–not been taxed for 130 years

When India introduced income tax in 1886 under colonial rule, income tax on agriculture was kept out of its ambit because of existing land levies and the right to collect any form of agricultural income tax was vested with the main colonial administration.

In 1935, the right to land revenue, and to potential agricultural income tax, was transferred to the provinces, today’s states. Since then, each state has developed its own agricultural income- tax policy, with wide interstate disparities.

Consider these examples:

    • Uttar Pradesh introduced agricultural income tax in 1948, and repealed it in 1957, one of six states to flip flop thus in the first decade post Independence, “to move away from oppressive agricultural taxes under the British, one of the reasons for the freedom struggle”, said Indira Rajaraman, leading economist and RBI Chair Professor, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi.Or, because “the meagre prospect of revenue of the tax on income arising from cultivation of non-plantation crops and also the growing cost of collection compelled some states to abandon this tax in course of time”, writes Biswadeb Chatterjee in Tax Performance in Indian States: A Comparative Study.
  • Assam introduced agricultural income tax in 1939. But it levies the tax, up to 45% (the highest slab), only on tea-cultivation income.

“Leaving agricultural income taxation to individual states has resulted in plantations in Kerala being taxed at 50% while our competitors in neighbouring Tamil Nadu pay no tax,” said Thomas Jacob, managing director, Poabs Estates, a 6,000-acre coffee, tea, cardamom and pepper plantation.

“High taxes leave us with very little to reinvest in the land; consequently, plantations in Kerala, including our own, are loss-making,” said Jacob, who is also vice chairman of the Association of Planters of Kerala. “Talk about one India must translate into practical action; agricultural income tax should be totally abolished or be made uniform across India.”

How bigger farmers justify their agricultural-income-tax-free status

States should pass a resolution under Article 252 of the Constitution authorising the Centre to impose tax on agricultural income, and all such taxes collected by the Centre, net of collection costs, could be transferred to the states, said the 2014 tax administration reformreport.

Against a tax-free limit of Rs 5 lakh on agricultural income, farmers with incomes around Rs 50 lakh could be taxed, recommended the report.

That’s easier said than done, of course.

Large farmers and agro-corporations with tax-free agricultural income wield significant clout over the government and they will lobby against it.

 

khushwant_620

Khushwant Singh, 43, writer and novelist, farms 12.14 acres in Punjab, a state where the average farmer holds 3.77 acres of land. There are 367 others like him in Punjab with holdings above 4 hectares, classified as medium farmers, or above 10 hectares, classified as large farmers, potential taxation targets, some economists argue.

Here’s how some big farmers and farm companies justified their stance against agricultural income tax to IndiaSpend.

“With yields across India having stagnated and most farmers lacking bargaining power to sell their produce, agriculture doesn’t leave much on the table for farmers. Significant economies of scale don’t kick in from farming large tracts of land because the cost of key inputs–seeds, fertiliser and water–rises almost proportionately,” said Sandeep Saxena, managing director,Big India Farms, a farming and food-chain supply company.

“Other business activity isn’t curtailed, whereas the land ceiling act restricts the land holding per family. Treat agriculture like any other business, hike the land ceiling per family to 100 acres at least; then consider taxing agricultural income,” said Khushwant Singh, a writer and novelist who farms 30 acres.

In Punjab, the law permits a family to hold 17.50 acres of irrigated land; and up to 32 acres of barren land without irrigation.

A 17.50-acre farm is not enough to support a family nor does it justify mechanisation, said Singh. A tractor becomes cost effective only at double that size.

Singh, his father and his brother collectively farm 60 acres and own two tractors between them. To augment family income, Singh senior has started a dhaba and Singh’s brother runs a resort, Citrus County.

Land prices have appreciated so significantly in rural India that the temptation to cash in is immense.

“We earn 0.1% of the value of our land; what businessman would stick on with those terms? Clearly, the math is against agriculture as a profession,” said Singh. “We’ll stick it out, but our next generation will definitely not live on the farm.”

Fewer big farmers should make agricultural income tax easier to administer

Conventionally, taxes are based on self-declared income.

“Self-declaration has been shown to work in plantation agriculture, which is closest to manufacturing in terms of scale of operation, year-round operation, formal records of accounts and links to the banking system,” said Rajaraman, the economist.

Assessing taxable agricultural income on the basis of declared figures would be arbitrary, and in all likelihood, lead to endless appeals.

“How could the revenue officer make objective assessments of income or challenge the declared income when it depends on so many variables and no criteria exist to define those variables? Rainfall, the sun, soils pests and diseases, irrigation, etc. are some of the influencing factors,” said Sudhir Prakash, chairman, DLX Ltd, owner of Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, West Bengal, and an associated tea estate in Assam.

West Bengal does not tax agriculture produce or plantations, whereas such tax in Assam is more or less at par with central income-tax rates, 45% as we said.

Source: Agriculture Census 2010-11

 

The silver lining could be the dwindling number of medium and large farmers, defined as holdings exceeding 4 hectares and 10 hectares (24.7 acres) respectively, as per the 2011 agricultural census, as well as the acreage held by medium and large farmers. Today, India has roughly two-thirds of the number of medium farmers it had in 1971, and about a third of the number of large farmers.

 

The big earners would be easy to target, tax and draw into the banking system. Medium and large farmers make up 10% or more of the farming community only in four states: Punjab (35%), Rajasthan (22%), Gujarat (12%) and Madhya Pradesh (10%), according to the 2011 agricultural census.

 

Agricultural income declared by taxpayers, in returns filed up to November 28, 2014, for exemption in the 2014-15 assessment year, stood at Rs 9,338 crore.

 

Source: Agriculture Census 2010-11

 

“Currently, transactions in the farming sector (except plantations) are mainly in cash,” said Prakash. “To track transactions, you need them to be routed through the banking infrastructure, and to transact through banks, you need ‘literate farmers.’”

 

How panchayats could tax agricultural income

 

If farmers do not use the banking system and maintain accounts, could rich farmers be taxed on the basis of what they have assumed to have earned?

 

Farmers could be taxed based on the area sown with high-return crops, proposed Rajaraman in a 2004 paper Taxing Agriculture in a Developing Country: A Possible Approach. High-return crop cultivators whose yield falls below a stipulated threshold would be exempted for the sake of fairness.

 

She suggested, in her 2003 book, A Fiscal Domain for Panchayats, that such tax be collected by village councils.

 

“Property tax is paid locally, why not tax on agricultural income?” said Rajaraman. “Agriculture thrives only when law and order prevails, and the panchayat governs locally. Farming makes use of local utilities, so it should give back locally.”

 

That would make local governance more responsive than it might by receiving handouts from Delhi, as the recent budget provided for with Rs 2.78 lakh crore ($41.34 billion) in grants topanchayats (rural councils) and urban local bodies, or above Rs 80 lakh per panchayat.

 

“A panchayat that benefits from tax collection is more likely to ensure compliance,” said Rajaraman, “than a distant state government.”

 

(Bahri is a freelance writer and editor based in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.)

 

We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.

High Court stops Nuziveedu Seeds from selling Bt cotton under Monsanto brand

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/high-court-stops-nuziveedu-seeds-from-selling-bt-cotton-under-monsanto-brand/articleshow/51060790.cms

NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court today restrained Indian firm Nuziveedu Seeds from selling Bt cotton seeds using the trade-mark of US-based agro major Monsanto’s Indian arm Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL).

Justice Vipin Sanghi also asked the Hyderabad-based seed company to pay the royalty to MMBL, a joint venture between US-based Monsanto and Mahyco, after selling the old stock manufactured prior to November 2015.

The bench restrained Nuziveedu Seeds from selling seeds manufa ..

Lettuce Produces More Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Bacon Does

A vegetarian diet does not necessarily have a low impact on the environment

 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lettuce-produces-more-greenhouse-gas-emissions-than-bacon-does/

Bacon lovers of the world, rejoice! Or at the least take solace that your beloved pork belly may be better for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than the lettuce that accompanies it on the classic BLT.

This is according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who found that if Americans were to switch their diets to fall in line with the Agriculture Department’s 2010 dietary recommendations, it would result in a 38 percent increase in energy use, 10 percent bump in water use and a 6 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The reason for this is because on a per-calorie basis, many fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood—the foods the USDA pushes in the guidelines over sugary processed food and fats—are relatively resource-intensive, the study finds. Lettuce, for example, produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than bacon.

“You cannot just jump and assume that any vegetarian diet is going to have a low impact on the environment,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy and one of the authors of the study. “There are many that do, but not all. You can’t treat all fruits and veggies as good for the environment.”

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of life-cycle assessments quantifying the water, energy use and emissions for more than 100 foods. They found fruits have the largest water and energy footprint per calorie. Meat and seafood have the highest greenhouse gas emissions per calorie.

To create a baseline of how many calories the average adult American consumes, the researchers used weight data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and calculated how many calories a person would need to consume in order to maintain that weight. The average calories per day came in at 2,390 per day, or about 200 more than recommended. The researchers tacked on an additional 1,230 calories to account for food waste.

“If what your concern is the greenhouse gas emissions or energy or water use of the entire system, I don’t think you should leave out large chunks of it,” Fischbeck said. “If you want to know how much energy is being consumed, you have to include waste and what is lost from grocery store or dining room table.”

That’s not to say all vegetables are bad. Onions, okra, carrots, broccoli and Brussels sprouts all have decent environmental footprints. Lettuce, on the other hand, is difficult to grow, harvest and transport. It requires significant amounts of water and energy to produce.

“I would eat less lettuce and more Brussels sprouts,” he added.

Some confusing comparisons
Martin Heller, a research specialist with the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan and a colleague, published a similar analysis last year. If Americans shifted to following the Agriculture Department’s dietary guidelines, they would consume less meat—good for emissions—but would drink more milk—bad for emissions, the study found (ClimateWire, May 8).

Switching to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet would result in a 33 percent decrease in emissions. Vegan diets are 53 percent more efficient.

Heller said the Carnegie Mellon paper did a good job of estimating Americans’ daily caloric intake and expanded on his work by quantifying the energy and water impacts of different foods.

But on the bacon-versus-lettuce greenhouse gas emissions showdown, Heller called the comparison “ridiculous.”

“We don’t eat lettuce for its calories,” he said, adding that is why in his food analyses he prefers to do assessments of full diets rather than food-by-food caloric comparisons.

“It’s much easier to compare diets that are different but provide a similar level of nutrition,” he said.

One limitation to all studies that aim to quantify the environmental impacts of human diets is that many of the life-cycle analyses used by researchers are conducted in other countries. In addition, they are often conducted on food commodities, not necessarily the processed products one finds in the grocery store.

The environment likes fats and sugars
To preserve both the Earth’s health and your own, Heller suggests cutting out meat. In the new analysis, beef was 3 ½ times more environmentally intensive than pork. A 2014 Chatham House report found greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector are estimated to account for 14.5 percent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transport sector.

Fischbeck said the takeaway from the analysis is policymakers need to take a closer look at foods on an individual basis, especially as USDA prepares to release its 2015 Dietary Guidelines, expected in a matter of days. These recommendations will guide food purchasing for the federal school lunch program as well as form the basis for federal nutrition policy for the next five years.

Earlier this year, the advisory committee helping to form the recommendations released a report that included environmental impacts in its assessment for the first time (ClimateWire, March 25).

It recommended that Americans adopt a more plant-based diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. A number of environmentalists and public health experts are hoping to see the considerations included in the official guidelines.

Fischbeck said that even though it seems counterintuitive, the best diet for the environment would be terrible for a person’s health.

“If you totally forget health, which diet would have best impact on the environment?” Fischbeck asked. “You’d eat a lot more fats and sugars.”

The research was published in the journal Environment Systems and Decisions. Co-authors included Michelle Tom and Chris Hendrickson.

*Editor’s Note (12/18/15): The headline of this article was changed to clarify that the comparison between lettuce and bacon is on a “per calorie” basis.

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

Lie of the land: Only 39 of 133 GM crop field trials monitored in 6 years

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-lie-of-the-land-only-39-of-133-gm-crop-field-trials-monitored-in-6-years-2127361
The Centre has always claimed that the country has a robust regulatory mechanism
  • cropGenetically modified or genetically engineered crops are those in which genes are tweaked to get the desired characteristics by either inserting another gene or altering existing ones

Busting the claims of the Indian government and scientists that the country has a robust regulatory mechanism to test genetically modified (GM) crops, toxic loopholes are emerging. From 2008 to 2014, only 39 of the 133 GM crop field trials were properly monitored, leaving the rest for unknown risks and possible health hazards to common people.

Documents accessed by dna reveals that the GMO regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), under the ministry of environment and forests, has failed to comply with the monitoring norms and practices on the confined field trials. Even in the 39 cases where the GM monitoring was done, it was not uniform.

GM crops or genetically engineered (GE) crops are those in which genes are tweaked to get the desired characteristics by either inserting another gene or altering existing ones. Once prepared in laboratories, they are tested in fields, which is called confined field trials. The field trial always has a risk of pollen-driven contamination, which is uncontrollable.

Documents with dna reveals that, in 2008, only four out of 12 trials, that is 1/3 rd of trials, were monitored. The Central Compliance Committee (CCC) and monitoring-cum-evaluation committee, during their tenures, visited the sites only once while they were supposed to go at least four times during the trials. Similarly in 2009, only five out of 29 trials were monitored and only one visit of CCC was recorded.

In 2008, only four out of 12 trials were monitored by just one visit of CCC and the monitoring cum- evaluation committee. In 2009, only five out of 29 trials were monitored and one visit of CCC was recorded. The very next year, 14 out of 54 trials were monitored and only one trial has the monitoring details. The monitoring data for 2011 shows that five out of 16 trials were monitored and that too have minimal external monitoring from the regulators’ side. Even when the CCC found illegalities, no action was taken.

Incidentally, 2011 was the same year when biotech giant Monsanto’s maize trials were tested at Anand Agricultural University (AAU), Gujarat. The documents show that the CCC report was presented and a record of harvest also exists with signatures of the trial in-charge. However, there was no post-trial visit to the site by the monitoring team.

The same year, in another plot of AAU, housed at Derol, Monsanto’s herbicide-tolerant Bt Maize was planted but the sowing date is unrecorded. Only two of the four-member team visited the trial site.

In 2013, Monsanto and another transnational company, Syngenta Biosciences, were allowed to hold five field trials but only two of these were monitored, with one visit each. Interestingly, this happened despite one trial witnessing a huge protest/destruction by the public.

In 2014, three GM mustard trials of Delhi University were taken up – at two sites in Punjab and one in Delhi – during the rabi season. There are enough evidences that there were no post-harvesting fool-proof monitoring in these cases. Similarly, in Maharashtra’s Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri, field trials of Monsanto’s GM maize were undertaken, but there was no post-trial monitoring.

Despite these deficiencies and failures in the regulatory mechanism, the Centre has claimed in public debates as well as in the Supreme Court that everything about the regulatory system is healthy, rigorous and perfect.

Ironically, documentary evidence proves the opposite. Officials of MoEF and GEAC did not reply to dna queries.

Monitoring of GE plants is very important because they have posed high risks and cause uncontrollable contamination. This is undertaken at various stages like pre-sowing, sowing, and various stages of crop development, like harvest and post-harvest land use restriction. The monitoring agencies also have the authority to investigate contained facilities that may be used for storing regulated GE plant material.

From time to time, the GEAC has delegated the authority to monitor confined field trials to various bodies like RCGM’s Monitoring cum Evaluation Committee (MEC), SBCCs, DLCs, monitoring teams of state agricultural universities (SAUs) and Central Compliance Committee (CCC) constituted by GEAC/RCGM.

SC-appointed Technical Expert Committee says
Ban three kinds of GM crops
Herbicide-tolerant crops:
These are crops genetically modified for a chemical substance, so that when it is sprayed, it kills the entire flora around the crop, except itself. India does not need this technology.
Bt food crops: Food crops inserted with Bt genes should not be allowed as a lot of evidences show the harmful impact of Bt genes.
India is the centre of origin of various crops and has a wide diversity in those crops. So the country should not genetically modify such crops. This approach is taken by several countries, including China, as it has not permitted GM soybean since it’s the centre of origin of the crop.

Does it pay to be a farmer in India?

RUKMINI S

http://www.thehindu.com/data/does-it-pay-to-be-a-farmer-in-india/article6713980.ece?homepage=true
The average farm household makes Rs 6,426 per month.
PTI

The average farm household makes Rs 6,426 per month.

What the data shows on farm incomes, and whether farmers can make ends meet

How profitable is farming? The answer to this most fundamental question about Indian agriculture can be found in the National Sample Survey Office’s new surveyof India’s agricultural households.

The average farm household makes Rs 6,426 per month. Where does this money come from? Farm households do a mix of jobs, the data shows.

How much exactly does growing a crop earn a household? The chart below shows the value of the harvested crop for a household that predominantly grows that crop, over a six-month agricultural season. Sugarcane is by far the most profitable crop to grow, while paddy (or wheat in the first half of the year) brings a household around Rs 30,000 for a six month season.

Who are most farmers selling their crops to? First of all, over half of wheat and rice grown is not sold at all, and is purely for the farm household’s consumption. Of what is sold, the vast majority is sold to the private trader, and not the state-run mandi or procurement agency. Among those who sell to the procurement agency, a minority report having got the Minimum Support Price for their produce.

Farmers often talk about the high – and rising – costs of inputs, including water, seeds and pesticides. So how does the output they earn compare with the inputs they put into the land?

Input costs work out to nearly 30 per cent of the total output an average farm household gets from a crop.

Among inputs, fertilizers are the most expensive, followed by labour.

Does this income get the family through the month? For this, I compared income and consumption expenditure for farm households by the size of their landholdings.

As you can see, a farm household needs to have at least 1 hectare of land to make ends meet every month. But given that over 65 per cent of households have less than one hectare of land, this means that two out of three farm households are simply not able to make ends meet.

Unsurprisingly, what this translates into is debt. Over half of all agricultural households are indebted, and these are not small debts; the average loan amount outstanding for a farm household in India today is Rs. 47,000. For marginal farmers, making under Rs 4,000 per month, which doesn’t even cover their consumption, loans of over Rs 30,000 must be extremely heavy burdens.

The southern states stand out for their level of indebtedness.

Who are farmers borrowing from? Marginal farmers rely chiefly on moneylenders, while those with bigger landholdings go to banks, the data shows.

Delhi’s organic farming shocker: Data a load of manure

Mail Today Bureau   |   Mail Today  |   New Delhi, March 26, 2015 | UPDATED 06:03 IST

According to the state department, there is hardly any activity of organic farming on Delhi’s land . It claims it gets no subsidy for for organic farmers.Believe it or not, almost 70 per cent of the national Capital was used for organic farming in 2011-2012, according to National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF), which comes under the Ministry of Agriculture. While the total geographical area of Delhi is 1.48 lakh hectares, NPOF data shows 100238.74 hectares (almost twice the size of Mumbai) was used for organic farming during that period.

What smacks of data fudging and a gigantic scam took place between 2009 and 2012 when the Sheila Dikshit government was in power in Delhi and Congress-led UPA ruled at the Centre. As per the central government scheme, a subsidy of Rs.10,000 per hectare of land is given to a farmer for organic farming. Hence, Rs.100-crore plus subsidies in 2011-12 were given by the Union government for organic farming in the national Capital for 100238.74 hectares. And Delhi, on paper, produced 4,765 tonnes of organic products in 2009. The state of Assam produced 2,329 tonnes. In other words, urban Delhi’s output of organic products was 100 per cent higher than that of Assam. The scam was exposed by the Crop Care Foundation of India (CCFI) through an RTI.

When MAIL TODAY asked the Ministry of Agriculture if indeed such gigantic tract of land inside Delhi has been used for organic farming or if the national capital is such a big producer of organic vegetables, we got no answers. Neither did the Commerce Ministry which is in charge of export of organic products come up with any answers. Both ministries passed the buck and pointed fingers at each other.

The Delhi Agriculture department says there is hardly any organic farming done in Delhi. “There is no awareness about organic farming in Delhi. We don’t get any specific data on such farming from the government. Neither do we get any subsidy,” an official from the department told MAIL TODAY. Delhi agriculture department records show 30,922 hectares of land were used for overall agricultural activities in Delhi in 2011-12. Agriculture activity in Delhi takes place only on six blocks, out of which there is negligible farming in 50 per cent of the area. NPOF was introduced by the Congress-led UPA government during the 10th five-year plan as a central sector scheme with effect from 10 October, 2004, with an initial outlay of `57 crore for promotion of organic farming in India. Though introduced by the UPA government, the scheme continues till date with substantially enhanced budget.

Dr Krishan Chandra, Regional Director, National Center for Organic Farming (NCOF), Ministry of Agriculture, said: “Agriculture is a state subject. The Centre’s role is to help states monetarily so that they can take up organic farming. We have different schemes through which we help farmers by providing money to states. But there is no scope of organic farming in Delhi as there is meagre land available for any kind of farming. As far as subsidy is concerned, we give subsidy for the export of organic produce.” According to the data available with the Ministry of Agriculture, the annual export value of Agriorganic products for 2012-13 was Rs.1155.81 crore.

Dr Chandra said that on noticing major glitch in the data provided by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), under the Ministry of Commerce, regarding organic farming in Delhi, he asked them for clarification.

“The data regarding land for organic farming is maintained by APEDA and not by our department. They said that earlier they used to enter the data manually but now they are doing it using computers. There may be some data manipulation as it is not possible to carry out such large-scale organic farming in Delhi,” said Chandra. “At times the state helps the farmer financially to carry out organic farming. Farmers furnish address details of the national capital, but the land is somewhere else. The responsibility to check such details furnished by farmers lies with the Commerce Ministry,” he said. Sources in the Agriculture Ministry said that there is a possibility of embezzlement of funds at the state level because who the beneficiaries would be are decided by the state.

The state agriculture department claims to have no information on organic farming in Delhi. “We don’t have any information,” said Kaushal Kishore, joint director, agriculture, Development department, Delhi government. Rajinder Chaudhry, Director (Media), Ministry of Commerce, said: “We are not aware about the disparity in data from other sources. The data provided by APEDA is sourced from TRACENET – a web-based traceability system operational under NPOP.”

World Water Day: the cost of cotton in water-challenged India

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/20/cost-cotton-water-challenged-india-world-water-day

Severe water scarcity in India is exacerbated by the cotton industry. Concerns are high, but are businesses, consumers and government doing enough?

Women and children gather water from pumps in India
More than 100 million people in India do not have access to safe water. Photograph: Jack Laurenson /Alamy

The water consumed to grow India’s cotton exports in 2013 would be enough to supply 85% of the country’s 1.24 billion people with 100 litres of water every day for a year. Meanwhile, more than 100 million people in India do not have access to safe water.

Virtual water

Cotton is by no means India’s largest export commodity – petroleum products followed by gems and jewellery follow closely behind. All of these exports require water to produce, and the quantities needed are staggering. Not only does it take water to grow anything, it also takes water to make anything: cars, furniture, books, electronics, buildings, jewellery, toys and even electricity. This water that goes largely unseen is called virtual water.

By exporting more than 7.5m bales of cotton in 2013, India also exported about 38bn cubic metres of virtual water. Those 38bn cubic metres consumed in production of all that cotton weren’t used for anything else. Yet, this amount of water would more than meet the daily needs of 85% of India’s vast population for a year.

Doing things differently

Cotton doesn’t usually consume this much water. The global average water footprint for 1kg of cotton is 10,000 litres. Even with irrigation, US cotton uses just 8,000 litres per kg. The far higher water footprint for India’s cotton is due to inefficient water use and high rates of water pollution — about 50% of all pesticides used (pdf) in the country are in cotton production.

Most of India’s cotton is grown in drier regions and the government subsidises the costs of farmers’ electric pumps, placing no limits on the volumes of groundwater extracted at little or no cost. This has created a widespread pattern of unsustainable water use and strained electrical grids.

“India’s water problems are well-known in the country and pollution is everywhere. Disagreement lies in the solutions,” says Arjen Hoekstra, professor in water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

The new Indian government’s solution to the spectre of growing severe water scarcity is the $168bn (£113bn) National River Linking Project, which will link 30 rivers with 15,000km of canals. This will transfer 137bn cubic metres of water annually from wetter regions to drier ones. However, the country exports far more water than that, in the form of virtual water, in cotton, sugar, cereals, motor vehicles and its many other exports.

Faltering forward

All of these exports could be produced using far less water, says Hoekstra, who pioneered the water footprint concept. “It’s not just improving water efficiency that could dramatically reduce India’s water consumption, it’s growing and producing things in the right place,” he said.

Most of India’s water-rich crops such as cereals and cotton are grown in the dry states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which have very high evaporation rates, unlike wet states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. This perverse situation greatly exacerbates India’s water problems and is largely the result of government policies, Hoekstra’s 2009 study (pdf) states.

“There’s a lot of concern about water scarcity, but little interest in changing consumption patterns,” Hoekstra said.

Rather than matching production of goods to the sustainable use of existing water resources, India, like governments around the world, hopes to use engineering to increase the amount of water, said Hoekstra. Instead, India could grow cotton in less arid regions with more efficient irrigation and fewer pesticides to greatly reduce the crop’s impact on water resources.

  • World Water Day on Sunday 22 March 2015 coincides this year with the final year of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015. The main official UN event is being celebrated in New Delhi, India.

Combine Harvester vs Manual Harvesting in Paddy

https://www.facebook.com/nandish.churchigundi
Combine Harvester
Is a machine that harvests grains crops, combining three separate operations like reaping, threshing & winnowing into a single process. The straw left behind on the field can be used as a mulch or bailed for feed and bedding for live stock.

Tractor mounted on the top of the machine having a wide cutter bar moving on tractor tyres are called as wheel type / tractor driven / tractor mounted combine harvesters. Standard weight of the machine will be 3,850 kgs + tractor engine weight 3,000 kgs + grain weight 700 kgs, total weight around 8,000 kgs ( 8 tons ). It is much more than a weight of huge African elephant. It can be operated only on dry fields, can harvest one acre of paddy field in 30-90 mins, charges are 1,400 rupees per hour and the machine cost around 16 lakhs. All its weight falls on its 16 inches tyres, soil gets compacted and hardened like our tar roads when we moved on our fields. It is so close to road rollers moving while making the roads.

Track type combine harvesters have a inbuilt engine, uniform weight distribution of 3,500 kgs to 5,500 kgs (depending on the companies) on 6 feet length x 1 1/2 width rubber tracks made easy to move even on wet paddy fields. They take 40-180 mins to harvest one acre of paddy field, 2,400 rupees per hour and machine costs around 20-25 lakhs.

Combine harvester companies says these are the most economically important labor saving invention, cheap, easy & time saving.

But, the problem is we need to collect the straw from the field, grains are to be taken to drying yard to remove excess moisture in the sunlight to store, need to wait for more than 8 months to dry further in the gunny bags for milling process to get raw rice. Again we have to dry one more time to get below 10% moisture of paddy before milling process. These are all the indirect disadvantages that we need to look for.

Due to abrupt stoppage of seasoning the grains with these combines, we will loose 5% of yield from unmature grains + 10% of waste on the ground in this operation. Finally we have to compromise with keeping, cooking, texture, taste, aroma & yield of rice.

In 1999 am the first person to introduce these combines in our area, after realizing the fact, this year we harvested manually in 6 acres i.e. 1/3 of my paddy growing area. Next year am planning to harvest manually and say goodbye to combines.

Tractor driven combine harvester

Kubota track type harvester – Japanese technology weighs around 3,350 kgs with grain full tank
Reel & cutter bar in action, Track type combine harvester
Grains storing at tank
Unloading to the tractor, it can rotate 360 degrees

The debt story less told

The Hindu, February 12, 2015, by K P Prabhakaran Nair

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/the-debt-story-less-told/article6887610.ece

Small and marginal farmers in rainfed regions are trapped in a losing battle with agriculture — and with life

The lot of the poor Indian farmer keeps deteriorating with the passage of time. According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data released on December 19, 2014, during the last decade, the bloated debt of Indian agricultural households increased almost 400 per cent Even the number of heavily indebted households has steeply increased during this period.

The report is titled Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households in India, and is based on a national survey covering 35,000 households during 2012-13. Though the definition of an agricultural household has changed during the last decade, the basic features remain the same. The survey states that, on an all-India basis, more than 60 per cent of the total rural households covered in 11 States are in deep debt, though wide variations exist, ranging from 92.9 per cent households indebted in Andhra to 17.5 per cent in Assam. Loan patterns show it is 60 per cent institutional loans and 40 per cent non institutional loans. Moneylenders make up most of the non-institutional lenders.

Green revolution myth

Average debt per household is ₹47,000, while average income is ₹36,973 per annum. In 2002-03, India had 148 million rural households which increased to 156 million by 2012-13, a 5.4 per cent increase in a decade.

The data point to another disturbing trend. While average income from 2002-03 to 2012-03 increased by 318 per cent, most worryingly, total debt per household increased by 273.5 per cent during the same period, proving that while income from sale of agricultural products increased due to a price advantage during the last one decade, it has not translated into a reduction in rural indebtedness. Has the so-called green revolution really helped the poor and marginal farmer of India?

Benefits by way of better seeds or fertiliser input have been cornered by rich and affluent farmers in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The poor and marginal farmers of Bihar, Odisha and eastern Uttar Pradesh are in a miserable state. There are reasons to believe that indebtedness of rural agricultural households cannot be just 60 per cent, as shown by the NSSO survey, but perhaps as much as 70-80 per cent.

 

The enthusiasts of highly extractive agriculture, euphemistically called the green revolution, based on “high input technology” — very liberal, often unbridled, quantities of chemical fertilisers, very expensive hybrid or Bt seeds, copious use of irrigation water — kept proclaiming the “success” of this revolution. But the poor and marginal farmers , primarily in the vast rainfed areas of the country, were simply left out.

 

Their farms remained parched, while their debts soared. The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, where Bt cotton failed miserably in parched rainfed fields and farmers in thousands took their own lives, unable to repay the loan sharks, became a global shame. Only where rich farmers had access to assured irrigation water coupled with unbridled use of chemical fertilisers could Bt cotton perform well.

 

PDS leakages

Many farmers are unaware of the minimum support price. And, often, these farmers resort to distress sale of their produce to clear the loans from moneylenders, obtained at exorbitant interest rates. In collusion with unscrupulous local traders and commission agents, government agencies delay procurement of grains by, in some cases, as many as 50-60 days.

The poor end up spending more than 50 per cent of their meagre farm income buying food for mere subsistence, while the government procured grain in the FCI godowns finds its way into the hands of corrupt officials, middlemen and grain traders.

Though the contribution of India’s agriculture to the country’s GDP is 18 per cent and it provides employment to more than 60 per cent of the total workforce of the country, if one goes by the NSSO survey, the country is heading towards a crisis in agriculture. The Prime Minister would do well to rethink his ‘Make in India’ strategy. These poor and highly indebted farmers, most with no formal education, cannot be allowed to migrate to congested urban areas to eke out a miserable, daily wage-earner’s life.