Agriculture ministry releases framework for PPP under ‘Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana’

Agriculture ministry releases framework for PPP under ‘Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana’
The agriculture ministry has released a framework for public private partnership (PPP) in agriculture under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
The guidelines issued by the Ministry are the outcome of several rounds of consultation held with States, industry bodies and experts.
Titled “Framework for Public Private Partnership for Integrated Agricultural Development (PPPIAD)“, the circular provides an enabling mechanism for States to team up with private sector players to achieve targeted goals in various sub-sectors of agriculture.
Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), an arm of the Agriculture Ministry, has been nominated as a National Level Agency to provide technical support and facilitation to states and corporates.
However, the final decision on the type and number of projects to be supported under PPPIAD has been left entirely to the States.
PPPIAD aims to harness the management and technical capabilities of private sector companies to integrate targeted clusters of farmers into the agri value chain. Project proposals are expected to offer end-to-end solutions, from production to marketing and value addition.
The scheme envisages an average investment of rupees one lakh per farmer, with approximately fifty per cent being provided by the government and the rest to be mobilized by the private partner.
Each project is expected to run between three to five years and cover a minimum of ten thousand farmers. A Results Framework Document (RFD) will be signed by the private partner with the state government, clearly defining outputs and verifiable indicators, thus making monitoring simple.
Several corporates have shown keen interest to participate in the pilot. With the formal notification of the Scheme, the Ministry expects over two dozen proposals to be submitted to various States in the next couple of months.
During the consultation stage companies with interest as diverse as seed production, dairy, cotton, micro irrigation and fresh vegetables filed concept proposals under the Scheme.
Many of them said that the PPP window could prove to be a game changer for agriculture and directly address the twin challenges of raising productivity and market access resulting in enhanced farmer incomes.
Farm ministry has new scheme to woo private players. Is it good enough?
By M Rajendran

A new framework released this week by India’s ministry of agriculture to encourage private-public partnerships may open up opportunities for entrepreneurs in the farm sector. Under the new scheme, which was notified in a circular dated August 16, such PPP projects will be supported by government funds provided to states under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). The scheme envisages an average investment of Rs 1 lakh per farmer, half of which will have to be put up by the private partner. Sounds straightforward enough, but not quite.

“The authors of the scheme are far from ground reality. The costing doesn’t make it an attractive proposition for the private sector,” says Vijay Sardana, an independent agri-economist based in Delhi. The incentives under the scheme, for instance, would not cover the overhead costs of such projects. The primary sticking point though is that the scheme, dubbed the Public Private Partnership for Integrated Agricultural Development or PPPIAD, leaves the final decision on the type and number of projects to be supported entirely with state governments. At the national level, the Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium, an arm of the ministry of agriculture, has been nominated to provide technical support and facilitation to the states and public sector players.

Each project is expected to run between three years and five years and cover a minimum of 10,000 farmers. To keep tabs on performance a results framework document (RFD) will be signed between the private sector partner and the state government. Sardana has a suggestion: “Offer private players a single window special tax clearance for their work under PPPIAD and see the magic.”

But why is the government out to woo private players into the farm sector, considering that it has been quite the opposite in other core sectors such as telecom, energy, roads and aviation?  The answer lies in a certain few segments that drive GDP in agriculture. Some of the favourites include horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy, poultry and fish products. By the ministry’s own estimates, such products contribute about 75 per cent of the country’s agriculture GDP today. Small and marginal farmers favour these segments since they are labour intensive, offer quick returns and can engage a higher proportion of women.

Overall PPPIAD appears well-intentioned and could serve a boost to new and existing private players, particularly rural sector focused startups. Take for instance, Pune-headquartered Trimurti Corns Agro Foods, a seven-year old company that grows and processes a range of products including exotic frozen vegetables, fruit juices and fruit pulp. It started working with 168 farmers around the region and now has backward linkages with over 2,000. But establishing those market linkages took time and some work because the company came up against technical problems in managing the post-harvest produce. The presence of a well-equipped food processing company at the time would have enabled it to scale up faster.

The PPPIAD could help alleviate such problems for future entrepreneurs, if private players can be incentivized enough to get into the sector and build an ecosystem. However, the obvious problems with the scheme and its implementation need to be ironed out first.

Brief on IFFCO mega dairy project proposed in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh

Facts about the case:

General information-

· Indian Farmers Fertilizer Co-operative Limited (IFFCO) is the world’s largest fertiliser cooperative federation based in India.

· It proposes to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.

· The total project area is 1023 Hectares which will cover villages Regadichelika, Racharlapadu, Chowduputtedu, Uchaguntapalem, North Ammuluru, Bodduvaripalem; Mandals Kodavaluru, Dagadharthi and Allur in Nellore district.

· This land was acquired 15 years ago at very low price by IFFCO to set up a Naphtha based fertilizer plant in Nellore.

· IFFCO Kisan SEZ Ltd. is being setup as an Agribusiness Special Economic Zone based on the concept of Integrated Agropark.

· Kisan SEZ has requested the government for stamp duty exemption, exemption fee for conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose and exemption from holding land more than the ceiling.

The mega dairy project-

· A mega dairy is proposed as a part of the SEZ. IFFCO is the main proponent of this dairy.

· It proposes to develop an intensive dairy through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) consisting of IFFCO Kisan SEZ-Fonterra-Global Dairy Health consortium.

· IFFCO Kisan SEZ is a fully own subsidiary of IFFCO.

· Global Dairy Health is an Indian company interested in enhancing milk production by establishing large scale integrated milk production systems around the world.

· Fonterra is a New Zealand based dairy company and is world’s leading exporter of dairy products.

· The proposal is to set up a modern integrated mega dairy farm with 40,000 cows at one place.

· 9,000 Holstein Friesian & Jersey breed pregnant cows with yield of 30 – 35 litres of milk per cow per day will be imported in the next 3 years in batches of 3000 cows each.

· 31,000 cows of local breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal, Deoni, Tharparker and Ongole will also be added to this dairy.

· Along with the pregnant cows, 20,000 doses of semen (sexed and regular) and 5000 doses of embryos will also be imported.

· The proposed plan in India is to build the prototype of Fonterra’s intensive dairy model in China (Tangshan)

· The milk from Fonterra’s dairy in China is responsible for death of 13 infants due to contaminated milk.

Issues of concern:

• Conflicting with Directive Principles of State Policy

• Animals kept within such a system are highly stressed, unable to express necessary natural behaviour such as grazing, grouping, exercising, and forming bonds.

• Animals kept at high stocking densities are more likely to contract diseases. Additionally, there is an increased likelihood of the emergence of novel zoonotic diseases.

• Genetically manipulated high yielding cows such as the proposed imported breed have shortened lives, reduced fertility, greater propensity for disease, and physiological and development problems.

• Animals kept within an intensive system have a high likelihood of enduring injuries such as leg and foot lameness and mastitis.

• The adaptability of imported cows to the climate of Nellore is of particular concern as this will increase stress in the animals.

• Calves may be removed from the mother before natural weaning; the fate of male calves is also a significant question.

• The cows with natural span of 10-12 years become dry in average 6 years in mega dairy operations. This can lead to unending problem of stray animals.

• Cow slaughter and transportation for slaughter results in additional welfare implications.

• Threat to native cow breeds.

• Effect on cooperative system

• Violation of provisions of Andhra Pradesh Cow Protection Act

• Past experience: Andhra Pradesh imported 300 cattle from Australia about a decade ago for breeding purposes. However, import of animals from Australia was unfortunate. These animals were suffering from diseases and had to be quarantined where they died.

Dowry system fuelling farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha

Mumbai/Nagpur, May 20 (IANS) The dowry system is driving many farmers of Maharshtra’s Vidarbha region to suicide, a fact which was brought into national focus Sunday on ‘Satyamev Jayate’, Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan’s popular show.
In an interview on the show, Usha Ashtekar, 25, spoke about how her father borrowed from a money-lender but had to repay the loan even before he could get Usha married.
‘My father took a loan from a money-lender to get me married. But before he could do so, the money-lender made my father repay the loan by using force. Worried about my marriage plus the bad condition of our farm, he committed suicide two years back,’ Usha told IANS from her village Sakra in Pandharkawada tehsil of Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district.
‘later, my brother and mother took another loan and spent over Rs.3 lakh on my wedding, bowing down to the needs of my in-laws. But it was all in vain as their demands kept increasing. I had to return to my mother’s home in only three months as I could no longer bear their torture,’ she added.
Usha, who has been married for over a year, is still staying at her mother’s home and prays that her husband will call her back some day.
‘Usha is one of the many cases that have met a similar fate. According to a survey done by the Maharashtra government in 2006, out of 20 lakh households in Vidarbha, around 4 lakh households had daughters of marriageable age,’ said Kishor Tiwari, President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers advocacy group.
‘But most of these girls did not get married due to lack of resources. The survey also said that the entire credit chain of these farmers was disturbed as they had to use the loan money in their daughters’ marriage instead of using them for betterment of their farms,’ Tiwari said.
Tiwari pointed out that there has been no such survey in the last six years and that VJAS is planning to demand for a similar survey.
‘It is inhuman to ask for dowry, as those seeking dowry are themselves aware of the grave crisis in Vidarbha,’ Tiwari said.

Philippines: Greenpeace wins landmark GE eggplant court case

Blogpost by Didit Pelegrina – May 14, 2012 at 13:28Add comment


26 April 2012GMO Ban Petition in the Philippines © VJ Villafranca / Greenpeace

In a landmark decision the Philippine Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Greenpeace Philippines and other petitioners wholaunched a court case against on-going field trials of genetically engineered (GE) Bt eggplant. 

The Supreme Court decision on Friday sets an important precedent in that it establishes that GE, and in particular GE Bt eggplant, violates the constitutional rights of individuals to a healthy environment. No other court in the world has upheld such a stance against genetically engineered organisms (GEOs). This landmark decision will become subject to national and international legal discourse in years to come.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that GE Bt eggplant violates the public’s constitutional rights to a healthy environment and therefore recognized the scientific uncertainties of the health and environmental safety of GE Bt eggplant. It ordered the respondents, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to justify the field testing of GE Bt eggplant in the country within the next 10 days.

The petitioners had filed a writ of kalikasan, which is a unique Philippine legal remedy for people whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthy ecology is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official, involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

In seeking the writ, the petitioners highlighted the need to first ensure the safety of GE Bt eggplant on health and environmental grounds before it is released into the open through field trials.

The petitioners also asked the court to halt all GE Bt eggplant field trials in the country on the basis of scientific uncertainties of the GE technology and the questionable regulatory process. Currently, regulators are approving almost 100% of all GE applications, which brings into question whether the applications are properly scrutinised before approval.

The Supreme Court decision puts the debate on the health and environmental safety of GEOs in the public spotlight. It also turns the tables on the debate, calling the proponents of GEOs to produce all evidence to inform the public of its safety – which has thus far been a highly contested area of debate.

Internationally, this victory emphasises the growing public rejection against GEOs. It also calls on the international community to subject GEO field trials to higher public scrutiny, as countries, particularly developing countries in Asia, are being turned into dumping areas and test grounds for GEOs that have been rejected in other countries.

In 2010 India issued a moratorium against GE Bt eggplant. As such, efforts have been set in place to ensure approval in the Philippines where the biosafety regulation is more relaxed.

Industry, in particular Monsanto, has been at the forefront of developing and pushing for GE Bt eggplant in India and in the Philippines as a gate opener for other GE vegetables. Based on figures from the top 20 eggplant producers in the world in 2010, the eggplant industry is worth more than US$8 billion per year, which explains Monsanto’s interest in having GE Bt eggplants approved.

Other countries must remain vigilant. After having failed to get GE Bt eggplant approved in India and the Philippines, the industry will attempt to push acceptance in other countries. But as Greenpeace has argued and as the Supreme Court decision shows, GE Bt eggplant poses a threat to health and the environment and violates the basic rights of individuals.

Didit Pelegrina

SC seeks report on GM crops’ field trials issue in 3 months
Press Trust of India / New Delhi May 10, 2012, 17:45

The Supreme Court today sought form an expert committee a report on desirability of the field trials for genetically modified crops within three months.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia asked the committee to submit the report on whether field trials for GMO (genetically modified organisms) can be completely banned and if they are to be allowed what should be the protocol.

The bench directed the committee to submit an interim report on the issue within three months if the final one is not possible.

The court passed the orders on a PIL filed in 2004 by NGO, Gene Campaign and anti-GMO activist Aruna Rodrigues, who had sought a complete moratorium on field trial for GMO.The bench said the expert committee would be appointed in terms of the reference accepted earlier by the parties.

The apex court is hearing the plea on which it had on September 22, 2006 restrained the Genetic Engineering Advisory Committee (GEAC) from granting approval for the GM crops. However, it had modified its order on May 8, 2007 allowing it to look into 24 varieties of the transgenic food.

The petitioner had alleged that GEAC was not properly constituted and allowing the open field trials for transgenic seeds will lead to contamination of related species and environment as proper safety guidelines were not in place.

The issue of GM crops have been in the apex court since 2004 and it has passed several orders.

While allowing the field trials, the court had imposed certain restriction including that the government should increase the isolation distance up to 200 metres between the GM planted fields and the other fields and a protocol for testing contamination up to 0.01 percent of neighbouring fields was established.

It had also said a designated scientist should be made responsible for ensuring that all the conditions were complied with during the field trials of GM seeds

HC asks panel on pesticides to frame guidelines by mid August

PTI | 06:05 PM,May 01,2012

New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today directed an experts committee set up by it to frame guidelines within three months to check presence of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables available in open market in the city. A bench of justices S K Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher also accepted a plea of pesticide manufacturers seeking a direction to the panel to allow their suggestions while framing the guidelines. The court directed the six-member committee of experts to file its report containing the guidelines by August 17. The bench also included Dr Sandhya Kulshrestha, Secretary of the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee, in the panel. Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the court had set up the committee in May 10, 2011 to periodically examine the fruits and vegetables available in the open market to check if they contain pesticide residues. Filing an affidavit before the court, the Centre had informed that the experts committee would be headed by the joint director of the Agriculture Ministry. On February 14, the Agriculture Ministry had convened a meeting of its senior officials with those of the food safety and standards authority of India (FSSAI) and the Delhi government’s health ministry on the issue, the affidavit said. Besides chairperson Sarita Bhalla, others members include FSSAI director Dhir Singh, scientist N K Sharma, Delhi government’s food analyst S M Bhardwaj, Union Agriculture Ministry official Vipin Bhatnagar and senior advocate V K Rao in the committee, it stated. The court also suggested eminent scientist M S Swaminathan as an “outside” expert for the panel. However, Swaminathan informed that his hands were full and he was stuck in too many assignments at this present juncture. As per the media report, some NGOs had conducted a survey and claimed that vegetables and fruits sold in the city’s markets contain poisons capable of causing cancer and harming the nervous system and liver.

SC refuses to nominate judge to head GMO committee

TNN | Apr 21, 2012, 04.31AM IST


NEW DELHI: Wary of public cynicism, the Supreme Court on Friday spurned repeatedly requests to nominate a retired apex court judge to head the expert committee for recommending rules for bio-safety testing of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

A bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said the petitioners, Aruna Rodrigues and Gene Campaign, as well as the Union government must come to a consensus on the name of a retired judge to head the committee.

“We do not have a problem with any name agreed to by the parties. But we are not going to name any judge in this kind of a matter in which there are so many conflicting interests. Then, rumours and allegations and counter-allegations will start. We know what happened in this case. With the kind of cynicism in our society, we are not going to give the name of a judge,” the bench said.

While petitioners, through counsel Prashant Bhushan and Sanjay Parekh, had suggested the name of retired apex court judge B Sudershan Reddy, the government through additional solicitor general Harin Raval had come up with the name of Justice Doraiswamy Raju.

Both Parekh and Bhushan attempted to drive home the urgency involved in the matter. They said the rules relating to bio-safety testing of GMOs needed to be framed expeditiously as anything released in the environment during field trials of such organisms could irreversibly contaminate traditional crops.