India Got More Land for Farming


Data from World Bank shows that around 60.3 percent of India's land area is agricultural land. The bank defines agricultural land as “share of land area that is arable, under permanent crops, and under permanent pastures.” In fact India has the second largest agricultural land in the world. As India Brand Equity Foundation, a trust established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry points out: “At 157.35 million hectares, India holds the second largest agricultural land globally.” Only, the United States has more agricultural land than India. What this means is that India has enough land dedicated to agriculture and even if some of it is taken away for other purposes there will still be enough land left for agriculture. Nevertheless, there are bigger problems when it comes to Indian agriculture.

Take the case of China. India has more arable land than China. This, despite the fact its total area is only a little over 34 percent that of China. However, China produces more rice and wheat than India does. As a report in The Wall Street Journal points out: “India is the second largest producer of rice and wheat after China, with China producing about 40 percent more rice and wheat than India. India is also the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world after China, but China’s fruit production is three times India’s production.” What this tells us is that India's agricultural productivity is low compared to that of China and many other countries in the world.

A report in Mint using 2013 data from the Food and Agricultural Organization points out: “India produces 106.19 million tonnes of rice a year from 44 million hectares of land. That’s a yield rate of 2.4 tonnes per hectare, placing India at 27th place out of 47 countries. China and Brazil have yield rates of 4.7 tonnes per hectare and 3.6 tonnes per hectare, respectively.”

In case of wheat the productivity is better than that of rice. “With 93.51 million tonnes of wheat from 29.65 million hectares, India’s yield rate of 3.15 tonnes per hectare places it 19th out of 41 countries. Here, we do better than Brazil’s yield rate of 2.73 tonnes per hectare, but lag behind South Africa (3.4 t/ha) and China (4.9 t/ha),” the report points out. There are multiple reasons for this low productivity.

The average holding size of land has come down over the decades. The State of the Indian Agricultural Report for 2012-2013 points out that: “As per Agriculture Census 2010-11, small and marginal holdings of less than 2 hectare account for 85 percent of the total operational holdings and 44 percent of the total operated area. The average size of holdings for all operational classes (small & marginal, medium and large) have declined over the years and for all classes put together it has come down to 1.16 hectare in 2010-11 from 2.82 hectare in 1970-71.”

The shrinking size of the average land holding of an Indian farmer has held back agricultural productivity and there is not much that can be done about this. But there are other areas which can be worked upon. As the State of the Indian Agricultural Report points out: “To enhance productivity, easy and reliable access to inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, access to suitable technology tailored for specific needs, the presence of support infrastructure and innovative marketing systems to aggregate and market the output from large number of small holdings efficiently.”

Ensuring that quality seeds are available is very important. “The efficacy of other agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation is largely determined by the quality of the seed used. It is estimated that quality of seed accounts for 20-25 percent of productivity. Hence timely availability of quality seeds at affordable prices to farmers is necessary for achieving higher agricultural productivity and production,” the report further points out.

Another issue which adds to the problem is that “substantial chunks of scarce land remain untilled because of landowners’ reluctance to lease out land for fear of losing its ownership.”

What these details tell us clearly is that India has enough land for farming. The problem is that it is not productive enough. The other huge issue is that for nearly 58 percent of India's population (as per India Brand Equity Foundation) agriculture is a primary source of livelihood. But agriculture accounts only 14 percent of the GDP. Hence, there is a huge requirement to move people away from agriculture into other areas. This can be done if enough industry and jobs are created. For that land is required and farmers have that land.

First Post

IIM-Ahmedabad Alumni Brings Ultra-Healthy Mushrooms into India


Ahmedabad, Gujarat; December 15, 2014 – WIMWI Foods Private Limited, a venture by IIM-Ahmedabad Alumni (batch 2014) has recently launched India’s first high quality packaged Shii’take mushrooms under the brand name Le Gourmetz – the Foodies. The product is now available across all Hypercity stores in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Kanupradeep Subramanian and Srishti Shaw, the co-founders of WIMWI Foods chose to start their own venture to pursue a common passion to bring healthier food choices into India. The company is currently a part of IIMAvericks Programme, a Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship initiative, which invites IIM Ahmedabad alumni to pledge their support for graduating students, who want to tread the unconventional path of entrepreneurship.

“Indian consumers are looking for healthier options for food which offer them the taste without the calories. They are looking for both quality and affordability in their vegetables. We have responded to this consumer need by introducing high quality Le Gourmetz Shii’take mushrooms,” said Srishti Shaw.

Shii’take Mushrooms, the jewel of the oriental cuisine, are the second most consumed mushrooms globally. Kanupradeep Subramanian further added, ”In the near future, we want to promote the cultivation of these mushrooms in India and build the technologies to make this an attractive source of income for Indian farmers.”

Explaining the health benefits of these mushrooms, Kanupradeep said, “These flavorful Japanese wood mushrooms have high protein content, rich in B complex Vitamins and dietary fiber. When consumed regularly they reduce cholesterol and develop protection against multiple diseases. Shii’take contains an active compound lentinan, which helps protect against cancer and is an official adjuvant for stomach cancer in Japan. The high level of protein makes them an excellent source of protein for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians who want to reduce the amount of meat in their diet.”

Courtesy : IIM-Ahmedabad

Cold Storage Solutions by Ecozen and ColdStar


Farmers can now access to solar and hybrid-powered cold storage solutions. IIT Kharagpur alumnus Devendra Gupta along with Vivek Pandey and Prateek Singhal started Ecozen Solutions in 2010 solar-cum-hybrid cold storage for Indian farmers. Gupta said, "The product works on solar power and uses thermal storage as the energy back-up. The cost of the solution depends on the commodity to be stored. Normally, a fruit farmer should be able to recover the cost within three years and earn at least twice of what he is currently earning."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student Rajat Sethi, currently pursuing his MBA, has co-founded Coolify as a new-generation cold storage solution, targeted to serve the back-end of the fruits and vegetable supply chain in India. He is planning to launch in India in 2015, after graduating from MIT. "We were awarded the most innovative business idea by the US Department of Agriculture, quoting a Rs 60 lakh prize money. This is an IT-enabled solution, wherein a farmer with a smartphone can activate the storage container and set the temperature," said by Sethi.

According to ColdStar, which supplies refrigerated storage to multinational companies and big farms, which in turn take it to farmers to retain quality of perishable produce, more than 18 per cent of India's fruits and vegetable produce worth Rs 13,300 crore goes waste annually due to lack of or poor cold chain facilities in India.

Cold Supply Chain reduces wastage of perishable produce said by Shagun Kapoor Gogia, founder-director of ColdStar.

There are business opportunities in dairy and milk industry providing facility for Dairy industry players.

Courtesy : www.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Online Courses for Agricultural Professionals


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for agricultural professionals were launched at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) global headquarters, Hydrabad.

National Virtual Academy for Indian Agriculture offers online platform India's agricultural professionals. Advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) now enable building of "classrooms without boundaries" in the cloud to provide courses and learning approaches among academic institutions in India. The intension is to reach to the masses. With this platform, one course can have the potential to reach 50,000-150,000 learner participants at one time.

Top agricultural universities from India, Africa and USA are getting involved in online education for Agricultural Professionals.

The MOOCs is a recent development in distance education in the country, which has now been boosted by the consortium through the pooling of international expertise, experience and resources, offering free online agricultural courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the internet. Learning material will be videos, readings, and problem sets.

Courtesy : www.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Growers shun agriculture to horticulture for more profit


TSaba Firdous
Srinagar, June 4:
As horticulture is emerging as lucrative business, the growers in the valley are fast converting their paddy land into orchards.
According to the growers, horticulture has been more profitable than other agriculture activities especially cultivation of rice.
“Horticulture is more profitable than any other agriculture activity,” said Chairman Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers Association Ghulam Rasool Wagay.
Growers complain that paddy growing is more laborious than horticulture their family members are not willing to work in paddy fields.
Mohammad Akbar Sofi, a grower said, “People are not ready to work on paddy fields. Agriculture requires more hard work than horticulture. Horticulture is more profitable too.”
Sofi said there is no point in growing rice when it is imported at cheaper prices from outside the state to Valley.
“Very few people from Kashmir buy local rice which costs double that what is imported from outside,” Sofi added.
Director Horticulture PK Sharma said that growers prefer horticulture over other agriculture practices.
“Horticulture is less labor intensive. Growers earn more in horticulture than in agriculture,” said Sharma.
Director Agriculture, Mushtaq Peerzada, said they are trying their best to safeguard agriculture.
“We have introduced new methods of agriculture, new mechanism that is helpful for not only farmers but other educated youth who can contribute to the field of agriculture. This can help us where growers will also sustain in agriculture,” Mushtaq said.
As per the official figures, the horticulture contributes of about 300 lakh metric tons of production per annum, while more than 70% population is directly and indirectly involved in horticulture and allied activities.
The figures show that more than 7 crore boxes of fruit were exported per year, while 3 crore boxes were consumed in the domestic market.
There are 282 private registered nurseries of horticulture which produce 25 lakh plants per year with the income of Rs 9 crore. Over 5 lakh fruit plants were annually supplied to other States.
Each hectare of orchard generates employment of 400 man-days per year which is 13.80 crore man-days per annum.
Courtesy & Source : risingkashmir.com