Farmers didn’t gain from rise in onion prices

The onino price rise has left citizens teary-eyed as the onion prices in wholesale markets have touched Rs 100 per Kg and the prices are expected to soar till February.

Retail price of onions nearing Rs 100 per kilogram in some states. (Photo: PTI)

The onino price rise has left citizens teary-eyed as the onion prices in wholesale markets have touched Rs 100 per Kg and the prices are expected to soar till February. India Today TV went to different whole sale onion markets throughout the onion producing state to get a firsthand account from onion merchants.

Swapnil Belhkar, one of the merchant at Gultekdi whole sale market said, “On any given day, Pune market gets 70 to 80 trucks of onion from adjoining districts as well as some trucks arrive from across the state like Karnataka. But since last 10 to 15 days, this market has been getting only 20 trucks of onion.”

Experts say that due to the shortage of onion crop, the prices have shot up and touched Rs 100 in the whole

sale markets. But not all onion farmers have benefited from the price rise. Four out of five farmers complained that their onion crop did not fetch appropriate price because of the poor quality. While a farmer from Shirur tehsil , Babanrao Thorat had a broad smile as his onion produce as he sold onion Rs 100 per kg.

The Director of Nafed Nasik region Nana Saheb Patil explained the reason of soaring. He said ‘the monthly onion consumption of India is 15 lakh metric tons. Which means daily requirement of India is 50 thousand metric tons of onion. As of now the daily supply is just 10 to 12 % of the requirement and this is the reason that the prices have touched Rs100 /- mark in the whole sale markets.’

Meanwhile, the Centre on Monday asked state governments to crackdown on traders hoarding onions, create buffer stocks and distribute imported edible bulb at a reasonable rate in order to provide relief to common man from soaring prices. The Centre has already banned onion exports

Source: India Today

Returning funds treachery of Maharashtra: Sena on Ananthkumar Hegde’s claims

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut. File
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Amid the flutter caused by BJP leader Pankaja Munde after she removed her party’s name from her Twitter bio, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil on Monday said she was not leaving the party.

“The BJP leaders are in touch with Pankaja Munde. She is introspecting after her defeat but it does not mean she is leaving the BJP,” Mr. Patil told reporters in Mumbai.

He also refuted Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s claim that many leaders were keen on joining the Uddhav Thackeray- led party.

“The accidental government that has come up in Maharashtra is spreading such baseless news. She may be having good family relations with Thackerays but it does not mean she is joining the Sena,” Mr. Patil said.MAHARASHTRA

Many people on their way to Shiv Sena, says Sanjay Raut

After speculation of senior BJP leader and former minister Pankaja Munde being upset with the party, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Monday said, “We will find out about her on December 12. Many people are on their way to Shiv Sena.”

Reacting to BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde’s statement regarding funds being sent back to Centre, senior Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said, “This is surprising and shocking. I hope both the Central and State government will take note of this, inquire into it. The CM has made it clear that farmers need to be given financial aid.”MAHARASHTRA

Returning funds treachery of Maharashtra: Shiva Sena

The Shiv Sena on Monday described BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde’s claim that Devendra Fadnavis was made CM last month despite lacking majority only to ‘protect’ ₹40,000 crore central funds from being ‘misused’ as treachery of Maharashtra.

Calling the purported act of Fadnavis as treachery, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said Mr. Fadnavis and the BJP were “criminals” of people of Maharashtra.

The state Chief Secretary and CM Uddhav Thackeray will clarify on the issue, Mr. Raut said.

Fadnavis denies Hegde’s claim

Reacting to Mr. Hegde’s claim, Mr. Fadnavis said, “No such major policy decision has been taken by me as CM. All such allegations are false.”

Mr. Hegde claimed Mr. Fadnavis was made chief minister of Maharashtra last month despite lacking majority only to ’protect’ ₹40,000 crore central funds under the CM’s control from being ‘misused’. — PTIKARNATAKA

Fadnavis made CM for second time to ‘protect’ ₹40k crore central funds: BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde

Former union minister and BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde has claimed his party colleague Devendra Fadnavis was made chief minister in Maharashtra last month despite lacking majority only to ‘protect’ ₹40,000 crore central funds under the CM’s control from being ‘misused’

Days after Fadnavis resigned barely 80 hours after taking oath for the second time as chief minister, Hegde, known for making controversial statements, sought to give a new twist to the episode describing the government formation by the BJP as a ‘drama’ played out to ensure that the funds meant for development works were ‘protected’.

“You all know that recently in Maharashtra for just 80 hours our person was Chief Minister, but soon Fadnavis resigned. Why did we have to do this drama? Din’t we know- despite knowing we don’t have majority, why did he become CM? This is the question commonly every one ask,” Mr. Hegde said.

Addressing a gathering, reportedly during campaign in bypoll-bound Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district on Saturday, he said, “More than about ₹ 40,000 crore was under CM’s control. If NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena come to power certainly that ₹40,000 crore would not have gone for development work and would have gone for different things (misused).”

“It was entirely planned earlier itself. Once we got to know (about three parties forming government) it was decided that a drama has to be played out. So, adjustments were made and oath was taken (by Fadnavis as CM), after oath within 15 hours Fadnavis systematically ensured that it (money) reaches where it had to and protected it,” the BJP leader said, speaking in Kannada. — PTIMAHARASHTRA

Will never dump Hindutva, says Uddhav Thackeray

Notwithstanding the ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine mentioning the word “secular” in the preamble of its Common Minimum Programme (CMP), Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on December 1 said he would never abandon the ideology of Hindutva.

Mr. Thackeray, who heads the Sena, told the Legislative Assembly that the ideology of Hindutva cannot be separated from him.

“I am still with the ideology of Hindutva which cannot be separated from me,” he said while addressing the special session.Read more

Hope Fadnavis won’t repeat mistakes he made as CM: Sena

The Shiv Sena on Monday expressed hope that Devendra Fadnavis, as leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, would not repeat the mistakes which he committed while being the state’s chief minister.

Attacking Mr. Fadnavis again over the hush-hush ceremony in which he was sworn in as Chief Minister on November 23 but had to quit 80 hours later, an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said the BJP has lost a face having mass appeal.

It claimed that people have drifted away from the BJP. “The current support that the BJP has (of its own MLAs and Independents) is unlikely to remain with the party. Whatever is happening to the party is the outcome of its previous deeds,” the Sena said.

Maharashtra BJP legislature party leader Fadnavis was on Sunday named leader of opposition (LoP) in the Assembly.

“Fadnavis should remember he has gone down in history as a person who was illegally sworn in by keeping everybody in the dark and without having majority,” the Sena said.

He was on that (chief minister’s) post for only “80 hours”. If he wants to get rid of that image, he should go by rules to work as leader of the opposition and take tuitions from senior BJP leader and former LoP Eknath Khadse, the Sena said in sarcastic remarks.

“Fadnavis should maintain the dignity of the leader of opposition’s post and not repeat the mistakes which he made earlier as Chief Minister of Maharashtra,” it opined.JHARKHAND

BJP puts up a brave face amid tribal discomfort

A few days before the Jharkhand Assembly election got under way, the Union government withdrew amendments to the Forest Rights Act (FRA), which had evoked sustained protests by tribal and environmental activists. It was an acknowledgement by the ruling party that tribal sentiments were hurt by the amendments that would dilute tribal rights over forests.

Proposed changes to the FRA are not the only problem facing the BJP when it comes to tribal communities in the State, which account for nearly 27% of the votes and 28 reserved seats in the 81-member Assembly. Analysts say 25 constituencies have a dominating tribal presence.

The BJP’s problems got compounded when the Raghubar Das government tried to amend the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act to facilitate easier land acquisition norms.

After protests by Opposition and tribal groups, these amendments, too, were withdrawn.Read more KARNATAKA

Will Siddaramaiah quit if BJP wins all seats, asks Jagadish Shettar

Large and Medium Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar said here on Sunday that he wanted to know whether Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah would resign if the BJP won all 15 seats in the bypolls.

He was responding to a challenge by Mr. Siddaramaiah to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to quit if the BJP failed to win at least eight of the 15 Assembly seats going to the bypolls.

Mr. Shettar maintained that there was no question of Mr. Yediyurappa resigning as the party was confident of winning all seats.

The Opposition parties will come out of their delusion of forming a government again in State on December 9, he remarked.

“Moreover, the Opposition is talking of forming a coalition government in the State again to divert the attention of people. They will not succeed and Mr. Yediyurappa will continue as Chief Minister for the next 42 months,” he said.TAMIL NADU

We are exposing DMK’s hypocrisy, not targeting Stalin personally: Vanathi Srinivasan

DMK president M.K. Stalin feels irritated on seeing the colour saffron, and the BJP is only exposing the DMK’s hypocrisy and double standards on various issues, not targeting its leader personally, says BJP State general secretary S. Vanathi Srinivasan. Excerpts:

BJP working president J.P. Nadda held a meeting with the party’s State Committee and Core Committee on Saturday. Were any important decisions taken?

He addressed the State office-bearers for about 20 minutes and motivated them. After that, we had the State Core Committee meeting, where we discussed the political situation in Tamil Nadu and the advantages we have been enjoying and the disadvantages we have been facing. The proposed local body polls were also discussed, and we expressed our opinion on the matter.

And what is that opinion? Going it alone?

No…so far, no decision has been taken. Mr. Nadda may consult with [party president] Amit Shah and other people involved in organisational matters, because it is an important decision as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned. It may take some time. We have expressed the wishes of our cadre to him.

The BJP appears particularly critical of DMK president M.K. Stalin, though his party has been out of power since 2011. Why?

May I ask why Mr. Stalin is targeting Prime Minister Modi? Even for issues remotely connected or not connected at all to the PM, he is targeting Mr. Modi. It is all political. There is no personal vengeance. Whatever may be our party’s stand on issues, it is quite natural and obvious [for us to criticise Mr. Stalin] since he’s the Opposition leader. In Tamil Nadu, he is leading the UPA. Wherever there is an anti-Modi brigade, he is joining hands with them

Source: The Hindu

Odisha Minister calls farmers to know procurement of paddy

Telephone numbers of farmers from Sambalpur, Bargarh, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Malkangiri districts were selected in a random manner.

Paddy cultivation

BHUBANESWAR: Minister for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Ranendra Pratap Swain on Saturday called farmers of several western Odisha districts over telephone to enquire about paddy purchased from them at mandis and whether payment was made to them on time.

Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FS&CW) is one of the six departments which will come under Mo Sarkar charter from December 1.

Telephone numbers of farmers from Sambalpur, Bargarh, Nuapada, Kalahandi and Malkangiri districts were selected in a random manner. The Minister called the farmers as part of the guidelines for the implementation of Mo Sarkar and 5T initiative.

The Minister made a surprise visit to the office of the Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited here and talked to farmers from its call centre. He first called Gunamani Nag, a farmer of Gobindpur village in Dhankaudi block of Sambalpur district. 

The Minister had telephonic discussion with 20 farmers including Tikeswar Panigrahi of Karnapali village in Sambalpur, D Adilaxmi of Bargarh, Durgaprasad Singh of Nuapada, Rushimani Sahu of Mahalinga village in Kalahandi district and Bikash Mondal of Malkangiri district.

Sources said the Minister’s discussion with the farmers was satisfactory. The farmers said they have received money after selling paddy at the mandis. 

The Minister assured the farmers that steps have been initiated to streamline the paddy procurement system to make it more transparent and requested them to bring to his notice any problems faced by them in this regard.Delay in procurement of paddy due to introduction of centralised token system was a major issue in the recently concluded winter session of the Assembly. 

Opposition BJP and Congress members who created noisy scenes over the issue on most of days demanded withdrawal of the centralised token system. Farmers from different parts of the State also launched agitation over the delay in procurement and lack of infrastructure in the mandis.

Health and police departments have already been included in the Mo Sarkar programme from the beginning. Five other departments to come under the purview of Mo Sarkar charter from December 1 are FS&CW, Women and Child Development, Cooperation, Panchayati Raj, and Commerce and Transport.

Source: newindianexpress

Farmers taste success with vanilla beans

Vanilla farming seems to have brought a flavour of success to a handful of farmers in Kerala at a time when prices of other plantation crops are moving southward.

Because of lower production, prices of dry vanilla beans is hovering between ₹22,000 and ₹30,000 a kg, depending on quality.

“It cannot be said that prices are declining, but there is a slight correction from last year’s higher levels,” Joseph Sebastain, a vanilla farmer in Thankamony in Idukki district said.

Higher returns from the crop had encouraged more farmers to take up vanilla cultivation where the number has gone up to 3,000 in regions spread across Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Sebastain, who recently travelled to some growing countries, told BusinessLine that currently there are no issues connected with vanilla prices in India. However, countries such as Indonesia, Uganda, Madagascar have already started cultivating new crop, which would take two more years to get the yield. There could be a correction in prices by 2021 when the production from these countries hit the global market, he added.

According to him, the production in India has registered a 10 per cent growth, touching around 40 tonnes, thanks to a conducive climate prevailing in producing regions. However, there is no official data to substantiate production figures and the months of October, November and December are considered as the harvest season of vanilla. Majority of the farmers here are now looking at export market in a big way, as the top variety realising prices in the range between $475 and $490. Currently, green vanilla season is going on in India at a price tag in the range between ₹4,000 and ₹4,500 per kg, which is abnormally high. This has fetched an earning of ₹20 lakh per acre. It is the third year in a row such high prices for vanilla are prevailing and it is unlikely to sustain next year, said R Mahendran of ExpoVan and Indian Vanilla Initiative.

Farmers say vanilla is a labour-intensive crop and it requires manual pollination of flowers. This has forced majority to abstain from its cultivation because of the shortage of workers in the plantation sector. Besides, the price volatility is also posing a problem in taking the cultivation of the crop.

Source: Thehindubusinessline

Exclusive: Why Millions of Farmers Won’t Receive at Least One Instalment of PM Kisan

Bureaucratic inefficiencies, delays at the state level and a slow pace of implementation is robbing millions of farmers of money the government promised they would get.Exclusive: Why Millions of Farmers Won’t Receive at Least One Instalment of PM Kisan

This is the second article in a two-part series on PM Kisan. Read the first part here.

New Delhi: Only 4.12 crore farmer families in the country are eligible to receive all the four instalments that will be due by the end of March 2020 under PM Kisan, according to information provided by the CEO of the scheme, Vivek Aggarwal.

This is because the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has decided to not make payments with retrospective effect. So only those farmers – numbering 4.12 crore – who had been registered in the first time period will be eligible to receive all four instalments.

Even though 4.12 crore farmer families received the first instalment under PM Kisan in the first time period, using some creative accounting – as we will explain in this article – the PM Kisan database available on the internet lists 7.17 crore farmer families as having received the first instalment.

As per the original estimate of the Centre, 12.5 crore small and marginal farmers were to receive the benefit of the scheme in which three instalments of Rs 2,000 each are to be paid to eligible farmer families in one financial year. That number was revised to 14.5 crore farmers when the scheme was extended to all farmers after the National Democratic Alliance returned for a second term in May this year.

Apart from the fact that the government did not have a database of farmers in India at the time the scheme was launched, another reason provided by the CEO of PM Kisan Vivek Aggarwal for being unable to spend the entire Rs 75,000 crore allocation is that state governments have delayed providing data on farmers in their states or not provided any data at all like in the case of West Bengal.

This has meant that even those farmers who are eligible to benefit from PM Kisan as per the definition of ‘farmer family’ for the purpose of the scheme have not received at least one instalment of the three that are due to them this financial year.

Let’s try and break it down to understand this better. By March 31, 2020, all farmer families in the country should receive four instalments of Rs 2,000 if the scheme is implemented perfectly.

The first instalment pertains to the 2018-19 financial year, as the scheme was implemented retrospectively to ensure that the first tranche could be paid before May 2019 when the Lok Sabha elections began.

The period for which this payment was to be made was December 2018 to March 2019. That was, thus, the first period of the PM Kisan scheme.

The second period began in April and ended in July 2019. The third period is from August to November 2019, and the fourth will be December 2019 to March 2020.

Ideally, all farmer families should have received the first instalment in the first period, the second instalment in the second period, and so on. But that has not happened.

In the first period, a total 4.12 crore farmers – or 28% of the original estimate – received Rs 2,000 as income transfer under PM Kisan according to information provided by Aggarwal. As per the PM Kisan database available on the internet, the number of farmers who have received the first instalment is much higher, at 7.17 crore, as of October 30.

The difference is a result of some creative accounting deployed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare to maintain the database that is made available on the internet. As Aggarwal explained to us, a farmer is listed as having received the first instalment even if the instalment is received in the second period or in the third period.

So, for instance, if a farmer was registered under PM Kisan in May 2019, i.e., in the second period, she will receive her first instalment in the second period, her second instalment in the third period and so on.

She would be listed as having received the first instalment even when she is not eligible to receive the Rs 2,000 due for the first time period as the ministry has decided that payment will not be made with retrospective effect.

This practice has led to an inflated figure of 7.17 crore farmers who have received the first instalment as per the PM Kisan database available online, when only 4.12 crore farmers received the Rs 2,000 instalment in the first period, i.e., December 2018 to March 2019.

Now, if we assume that the number of farmer families in India is 14.5 crore, as was done when the scheme was launched (although, the number is around 26.5 crore based on the Census 2011 data and the ministry’s definition of farmers), and we know that 4.12 crore farmer families received the first instalment in the first period. Then, over 10 crore farmer families will not receive the benefit of the first period instalment as payments are not being made with retrospective effect.

This also means that only 4.12 crore farmers are entitled to receive all the four instalments of PM Kisan that are due till the end of March 2020. This is because the ministry will not be making retrospective payments implying that those who did not register in the first period will be ineligible to receive at least one instalment out of the four.

In effect, 3.05 crore farmers who have been registered under PM Kisan after the first period will not receive at least one instalment of Rs 2,000 this financial year.

Due to the manner in which the database is maintained, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare will encounter a peculiar situation when the fourth instalment pertaining to December 2019 to March 2020 is due.

As per the system followed by the ministry, only those farmer families who were registered in the first period, i.e., December 2018 to March 2019, will be eligible to receive the fourth instalment in the fourth period as the ministry has decided to not make payments with retrospective effect.

So, only the 4.12 crore who were registered in the first period will be due their fourth instalment in the fourth period. For the others, who were registered in later periods, the fourth instalment will not be due until next year.

Now, more than 4.12 crore farmer families are likely to receive a Rs 2,000 instalment in the fourth period as the farmers registered after the first period will receive one instalment and more farmers are likely to be registered in the fourth period. But not more than 4.12 crore farmer families can be listed as having received the fourth instalment by the end of March 2020 if the method currently deployed continues to be followed.

The pace of implementation of PM Kisan has also slowed since the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections as only 2.57 crore farmers were registered in the second period (April 2019 to July 2019), compared with 4.12 crore farmers who were registered in the first period (December 2018 to March 2019).

Since then the pace has been even slower, with only 39 lakh farmers having been registered in the third period (August to November 2019) as on October 25, 2019. With only a month to go before the window of the third period closes, it is unlikely that the number will exceed the number of farmers registered in the first period prior to the Lok Sabha elections.

So in all, only 7.17 crore farmer families have been registered and transferred at least one instalment of Rs 2,000 under PM Kisan in the almost nine months since the scheme was launched in February.

Vivek Aggarwal, the CEO of the scheme, is of the view that finally the number of beneficiaries who will be registered under PM Kisan will be around 10 crore, significantly lower than the 14.5 crore initially estimated.

If this guesstimate is correct, then a budgetary allocation of Rs 60,000 crore will be sufficient to provide all the three instalments to all the 10 crore farmer families as per the definition under PM Kisan. This is significantly lower than the Rs 75,000 crore allocated for the 2019-20 financial year, and the Rs 87,000 crore which was estimated to be required when the scheme was extended to all farmers.

“The data for number of farmers that we are getting is less than the original estimate. When the number of eligible farmers is lower, the total expenditure will also be lower,” said Aggarwal. “The original estimate was not based on farmers but on landholdings. We can’t transfer money on the basis of landholdings.”

Finally, it seems that the PM Kisan scheme will fall well short of achieving its objective of providing income support to all farmers in the country. The target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 looks all the more daunting given the underwhelming performance of one of the key policy interventions of the Modi government.

source: The wire

India to produce record cotton crop for 2019-20, predicts USDA

Cites good monsoon coupled with higher MSP making fibre crop preferred over others

India is set to retain its numero uno position in cotton cultivation globally.

The latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate for the marketing year 2019-20 has projected India’s cotton crop at 305 lakh US bales (each of 217.7 kg), which works out to 390 lakh India bales (each of 170 kg).

Last season in 2018-19, India’s cotton crop was reported decade-low at 312 lakh bales by the apex cotton trade body, Cotton Association of India (CAI).

Increased production

“Production in India — the leading cotton producer — is forecast at 30.5 million bales, 15 per cent above 2018-19, and the second highest on record, as both area and yield in 2019-20 are expected higher. Harvested area in India is projected at a record 12.9 million hectares in 2019-20, as domestic prices and internal support price prospects favour cotton over competing crops,” USDA stated in its international outlook on cotton crop, which was released on October 15, 2019.

The report also noted that the “recent above-average monsoon rainfall will likely provide an extended picking season, which is expected to increase the yield to a 3-year high.”

The cotton trade bodies in India are yet to come out with their own crop estimate while, the first advance estimate by the Government of India has projected cotton crop in the country at 322.7 lakh bales.

This kharif season, India grew cotton on larger area at 127.67 lakh hectares, about 6 lakh hectares more than last year.

It is also indicative from the weak cotton prices in the domestic market, where traders expect crop to be record this year. The cotton prices hovered at ₹41,900 per candy (each of 356 kg) of ginned cotton with 29 mm variety, down from ₹43,900 two months ago. International cotton prices quoted at 60.83 cents per pound on ICE futures for December 2019.

As per the USDA, cotton consumption in India is expected to rise 3 per cent, to 247.5 lakh US bales (each of 217.7 kg) in 2019-20 — which is about 316.9 lakh Indian bales (each of 170 kg) — which is equal to the record set in 2015-16.

Supplying cotton to the world

The global cotton players are looking at India, with its record production and likely increased stock situations, to feed the world cotton market.

“India’s increased stock expectations to 134 lakh US bales (or 171.6 lakh India bales)associated with the higher production forecast — contribute significantly to this season’s global stock gain…For India, this season’s projected larger crop is expected to provide an additional 500,000 bales (or 6.4 lakh Indian bales) of exports, with cotton exports rebounding to 4.0 million bales in 2019-20,” the USDA report stated.

The USDA projections hint at expansion in the cotton exports during 2019-20 in Brazil, India and the United States.

The global cotton production in 2019-20 is projected at 124.8 million US bales, about 5.8 million bales (or 5 per cent) above 2018-19. The October production estimate includes decreases for Brazil, Pakistan, Australia, and the United States, which more than offset an increase for India.Published on October 18, 2019

Source: Thehindubusinessline

This Startup’s Device Runs Water Pumps & Saves Farmer Lives For Just Rs 400!

This Startup’s Device Runs Water Pumps & Saves Farmer Lives For Just Rs 400!

The ‘Smart Fault Preventer and Irrigation Controller’ lets farmers irrigate their farms automatically, handles high voltage power and also manages electricity fluctuations – all in one go!

“Throughout my life, I have seen how lack of rainfall, crop failure, loans and debt trap have a negative impact on the lives of farmers,” says 24-year-old innovator and entrepreneur, Vikas Jamkhandi. The founder of the start-up—SymGrow—wanted to develop solutions to make farming a lucrative profession for them. The engineer developed stabilisers that automatically switch on water pumps without the farmer having to intervene, manages high voltage power that prevents farmer deaths from electrocutions and also manages electricity fluctuations preventing damage to water pumps.

Vikas Jamkhandi, the 24-year-old founder of Symgrow

“I founded this startup with the objective to make irrigation sustainable, safe and hassle-free for Indian farmers. Today, Symgrow offers a wide range of electrical, electronic and IOT products which help farmers tackle their irrigation related challenges,” he informs.

In a period that spans slightly over a year, Symgrow has sold about 3,000 units of their product. Symgrow has also already won awards. Startup India awarded the startup with the first prize in 2018 in the Agriculture sector. Then again in the same year, it was recognised as one of the top 10 Sustainable Enterprises in India by the Jagriti foundation.

The Problem

Prayas, a Delhi-based sustainable development organisation, published a report titled, ‘Understanding the Electricity, Water & Agriculture Linkages’. There were quite a few relevant findings with regards to farmers and their work with water pumps.

Vikas developed the Smart Fault Preventer and Irrigation Controller’ which manages electricty fluctuations and prevents burning of water pumps

The report on this subject noticed that irrigating fields in the night can be risky for farmers as coming into contact with low hanging conductors and attempting to repair failed transformers can lead to fatal accidents.

But for farmers like Shiv Shankar Shivalingappa Savarkar, 50, based in Naganur village under Belagavi district, Karnataka, the time of the day is not taken into consideration when they have to water their crops. What matters is the availability of power. “There were times when I would irrigate the fields at night due to load shedding during the day.”

Savarkar has four acres of farmland where he grows sugarcane, millets and maize. A significant part of the Belagavi district is known to be a dry region. Naturally, farmers depend on water motors for irrigating their fields.

Savarkar’s situation is no different from the others. Moreover, due to the voltage fluctuation in the electricity supply, the wiring gets burnt. “To repair this, I end up spending at least about Rs. 10,000 to 12,000 in a year and the motor goes bad at least twice in a year, says Savarkar.

Symgrow’s stabilisers installed and in use in farmer’s fields

He spends money on repairing the water motor, and is also unable to irrigate his field during that period.

Savarkar further explains that the electricity supply is very sporadic, available only three to four hours in a day. “Sometimes, the electricity comes at night and is unavailable throughout the day. In this situation, it becomes extremely difficult,” says the farmer.

However, since the past three months, Savarkar’s life has been made easier. Things changed when the farmer bought an automatic stabiliser from Symgrow for his water motor. Now, he is being able to save the money he would otherwise spend on repairs. Not just that, because the stabiliser has an automatic switch on button, he doesn’t have to worry about when the electricity comes and goes, especially in the dead of the night.

The beginning of an idea

Vikas comes from an agricultural family in Athani, where his father and uncles have worked as farmers on their four-and-a-half acre land. Since childhood, he has witnessed and understood the hardships that a farmer’s family has to go through.

Startup India awarded the startup with the first prize in 2018 in the Agriculture sector

When he was in the 3rd year of engineering at R V College of Engineering in Bengaluru, he had a discussion with his father about how a lot of farmers lose their lives getting electrocuted. These take place when they are handling water pumps in their agricultural fields without being aware of the safety measures. Vikas formally founded Symgrow in 2018 but he had already started developing this solution since his time at college in 2017. He named the product, ‘Smart Fault Preventer and Irrigation Controller’ to help farmers with their irrigation woes.

The product is available in four models. The cheapest model is for Rs. 400 and it eliminates manual operation, curbs burning of the motor and prevents burning of the motors. The other three models priced at Rs. 3500, Rs. 4500 and Rs. 8000. These models have the same features as the first one and can handle a power capacity of 8 HP, 15 HP and 30 HP respectively.

The warranty period of the stabiliser is about one year and the startup charges a nominal fee of Rs. 600 to 800 for providing after-sales service for the product.

Vikas interacting with Mr. Narayan Murthy and Sudha when they visited Hubballi on two different occasions. They had come to interact with entrepreneurs in Sandbox Startups Incubation Centre where Symgrow was incubated.

A report titled, ‘Market Research of Agriculture Pump-sets Industry of India’ found that due to budget constraints, a lot of farmers ended up buying locally-made water pump sets, which the farmers need to repair at least once a year due to fluctuating voltage levels. Also, the farmers stated that considering the electricity scenario, they would have to incur expenses on repairing the water pump sets irrespective of the quality or brand of the water pump. Hence, they want to keep their initial expenditure as low as possible.

Vikas’ innovation is aimed to solve such problems.

Operation, Challenges and Impact

To develop the product, Vikas spoke to several farmers to understand the problem and their needs better. “After completing college, I also spoke to several domain experts and built several prototypes. I field-tested them for a couple of months to develop the technology further,” he explains.

Gradually, Symgrow developed its office and factory in Hubballi in Karnataka. Once the prototype was developed in mid-2018, they quickly started selling the product to farmers in the Belagavi district and went on to expand in neighbouring districts like Bagalkot, Bijapur and Dharwad.

Vikas and his Symgrow team

The startup several challenges throughout their operations.

“When we had just started out, raising investments was a challenge. Also, we were very few in number so we had to ensure that the quality of each product that we were manufacturing in our factory had to be of good quality. Now, the challenges have changed a little. We are still building our team and scaling operations in regions outside is a roadblock that we need to overcome,” says Vikas.

In 2019, the startup was one of the winners in Elevate, 2019, a grant scheme by Startup Karnataka under the Ministry of Information Technology and Biotechnology, Government of India.

Their team has also grown in size to about 14 people. Now, Symgrow is developing their second prototype of the stabilisers which is slated to be commercially sold in the next few months.

“This will collect data through IOT elements and that data will be utilised by Artificial Intelligence elements to predict future damage to the motors.

Whereas Artificial Intelligence components and Machine Learning elements will make sure that just the right amount of water reaches the plants by considering aspects like climate, environment and nature of crops etc.,” says the founder.

So, what aspiration does the founder have for the future of the company? “We are committed to make Symgrow a global company and industry leader in irrigation. We are committed to convert our vision of ‘making irrigation sustainable, safe and hassle-free’ into a reality,” says Vikas signing off.

Source: Thebetterindia

Govt extends Aadhaar seeding date for PM-Kisan plan till November 30

Under PM-Kisan scheme, the government is providing annually Rs 6,000 in three equal installments to 14 crore farmers.

Aadhaar seeding was mandated to avail the installment after August 1, 2019.

NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday extended Aadhaar seeding date till November 30 to avail Rs 6,000 benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme to help farmers buy farm inputs ahead of rabi sowing season.

The decision in this regard was taken in the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Under PM-Kisan scheme, the government is providing annually Rs 6,000 in three equal installments to 14 crore farmers. The amount is directly transferred into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode.

Aadhaar seeding was mandated to avail the installment after August 1, 2019. However, it was exempted to farmers of Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir till March 2020.

“The mandatory requirement of Aadhaar seeding was taking time and therefore we have relaxed the norm till November 30,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told media after the meeting.

This will enable immediate release of benefit to a large number of farmers who are not able to avail the same due to the mandatory requirement, he said.

The minister further said that the PM-Kisan is an unique scheme as about 14 crore farmers will get Rs 87,000 crore.

Already, 7 crore farmers have received the benefit.

“The only two states which have not joined the scheme are Delhi and West Bengal,” he added.

Javadekar said the extension of the date will help farmers buy crop inputs for the forthcoming rabi sowing season.

Since the farmers are still gearing up for the rabi (winter) season, they are in dire need of money to take care of various farming activities like procurement of seeds, preparation of soil and other activities like irrigation, maintenance and mobilization of machinery and tools.

Over and above these pressing needs, the just started festive season will put further stress on the financial condition of the poor farmers’ households in the country.

“Non-seeding of beneficiaries’ details with Aadhaar number will delay the release of further instalments and will cause discontentment among the farmers. Therefore, the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar seeding has been relaxed…,” an official statement said.

The government also said the mandatory requirement will remain applicable for release of benefits with effect from December 1, 2019 onwards. Adequate measures will be taken to validate the data before payment is made.

More than Rs 27,000 crore has already been released under the scheme through the first instalment to 6.76 crore, second instalment to 5.14 crore beneficiaries and third instalment to 1.74 crore beneficiaries, the statement added.

source: Indiatimes

Low registration of farmers worry for Odisha government

Secretaries of PACS asked to bring all farmers, who have taken loans for paddy crops, into the registration fold

BHUBANESWAR: With only four days left for closure of online registration for sale of surplus paddy to Government agencies under price support system, only 3.16 lakh farmers are reported to have enrolled for 2019-20 kharif marketing season.

Taking exception to such low registration of farmers, the Cooperation Department has asked secretaries of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) involved in paddy procurement to ensure that farmers, who have taken crop loan from cooperation credit structures and commercial banks, are covered under the minimum support price (MSP) scheme.

As many as 12,59,826 farmers had registered themselves in 2018 under the paddy procurement automation system (P-PAS).

Apart from renewal of registered farmers, the State Government has asked all district Collectors to include new farmers such as sharecroppers, marginal and small farmers to expand the procurement base by ensuring them the benefit of MSP. 

The Civil Supplies Officers (CSOs), Divisional Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies (DRCS), Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies (ARCS) and secretaries of District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) have been assigned the job to monitor and ensure that farmers having small land holding are not deprived of the MSP scheme.

In a communication to DRCS, ARCS and DCCBs, Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) has asked them to issue instructions to PACS secretaries to bring all farmers, who have taken loans for paddy crops, into the registration fold. In case loanee farmers have not registered their names, the PACS secretary concerned will have to explain the disposal of surplus paddy by such farmers.

Similar was the situation in the corresponding period last year when only 11 per cent of 11.2 lakh farmers registered with PACS in 2017-18 renewed their names. In view of slow progress of farmers’ registration, the State Government had to extend the deadline twice till October 15, 2018.

As the registration of farmers has been going slow at the PACS level due to Internet problem, the RCS has recently issued an advisory to all DRCS, ARCS and  DCCB secretaries for taking measures to complete the registration process with instruction to PACS and LAMPS to function on Government holidays till closure of the exercise on August 31. 

As per the Centre’s guidelines, kharif paddy procurement will start from November 1 and continue till April 30.

source: Newindianexpress

Startup Street: India’s Agritech Startups Are Booming. But There’s More To Do

This week on Startup Street, we have a report by Nasscom that outlines the emerging trends in India’s agritech startups along with what more is needed. Commerce and industry body Assocham is launching a quick-pitch series for Indian startups. And cab ordering applications have taken another step towards the future of electric and driverless cars.

Agritech Startups Are Having A ‘Delightful’ 2019

India’s agriculture tech startups are undergoing a boom in 2019, with funding in the first half of the year jumping over three-fold compared with that in the entire previous year. Funding received till June 2019 was $248 million compared with $73 million in 2018—spurred by key deals with Ninjacart, AgroStar, WayCool, Jumbotail and Samunnati Financial Intermediation—as the industry focuses on strengthening the supply chain, according to a report by Nasscom.

Of the 450 agritech startups in India, more than half offer supply chain solutions like better access to inputs for farmers or market linkage. Over time, the ecosystem has tilted towards B2B startups instead of B2C startups, the report said.

Titled ‘Agritech in India—Emerging Trends in 2019’, the report attributes the sudden boom to the idea that agritech startups may be one of the only things that are truly ‘Make in India’. More than 25 Indian agritech companies have global presence so far while only five global agritech companies have ventured in India, the report said.

Ninjacart’s $165 million funding this year is the largest any Indian startup has received from a U.S. investment firm till date. Interest in Indian agritech startups has increased globally, including from the World Economic Forum and Asian Development Bank.

India’s agritech ecosystem is maturing quickly amid emerging business opportunities in market linkage, digitalisation in agriculture, offering better access to inputs, farming as a service and financing farming operations.

The reason the sector has so many opportunities can be attributed to the number of broken links in India’s agricultural sector. The severe gaps in supply chain have led to $13 billion in losses post harvest, according to the report. It has also led to exploitation of farmers who get driven deep into debt, causing suicides and protests among the agrarian community. Farm incomes was also one of the key issues the 2019 election was contested upon, with both Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress offering different versions of direct income schemes for farmers.

Another problem is that of disguised employment, the report points out. The country’s agricultural sector employs 50 percent of India’s workforce but contributes to only 18 percent of the gross domestic product. “Solutions that enable fast automation and aggregation will rationalise and gainfully redistribute the workforce,” the report said. Increasing India’s processed food export and maximising usage of water resources are other problems, and opportunities, in the sector, it said.

However, even with the rapid growth—averaging 25 percent year-on-year—there are issues that need to be addressed for the industry to reach its potential. Nearly 40 percent of agritech startup founders believe raising funds is their biggest challenge, despite the boost in investment. More than half of CEOs believe that the sector won’t see a unicorn, or startup with valuation of $1 billion, for the next five years.

Nasscom believes that the government needs to put in place policies for structured growth. This includes setting up micro funds ranging from $2 million to $14 million to help spur innovation. Data policy, incubation policy, policy for warehouse licensing and engaging startups in larger projects are other areas the government needs to work on, the report said.

The report estimates that by 2020 the agritech sector to be at the center-stage of innovation and will lead India’s journey towards overall transformation.

“Therefore, to achieve this goal, it is imperative that the ecosystem needs to focus towards driving innovation, data collaboration, easy working capital and providing digital infrastructure to enable real time access to farmers across the country,” a Nasscom statement on the report said.

Assocham Is Launching Elevator Pitch Programme For Startups

Industry chamber Assocham is set to launch a programme in 12 Indian cities, including Jammu and Srinagar, to provide a platform for startups to pitch for funding and technology partners for their dream projects.

In a ‘Startup Elevator Pitch Series’ format, the programme will give entrepreneurs and founders 300 seconds to explain the concept and idea of a service or product to a set of jury members—not different from the U.S. TV show Shark Tank.

The series is scheduled to begin on Sept. 7 at Jaipur followed by Pune, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Raipur, Indore, Guwahati, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam, Jammu and Srinagar.