Monthly Archives: March 2015

Badal unfolds blue print for agricultural diversification in State


Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal today reiterated his government’s firm commitment to put the state on fast track of Agriculture diversification in order to achieve twin objective of restoring soil’s fertility and checking the depletion of water table on one hand and strengthening the agrarian economy on the other.

Winding up the intensive discussions after two days meeting with central team of Agriculture experts and progressive farmers here today, the Chief Minister said that these fruitful deliberations had helped the state government to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of Agriculture Diversification plan in a phased manner. Mr Badal said the over exploitation of its natural resources i.e. micro nutrients of soil and ground water had sounded alarming bells for the state government towards second push to ‘Green Revolution’ which was the need of the hour. He announced in the meeting that the state government would submit comprehensive proposals in this behalf to the Union Ministry of Agriculture positively by April 30th.

The Chief Minister revealed that the state government   has chalked out a strategy to reduce major area of state under paddy cultivation to alternate crops with a view to shift from supply driven to demand driven agriculture. It was purposed to shift this area to Maize (5.5 lakh hectare), Cotton (seven lakh hectare), Sugarcane (2.6 lakh hectare), Guar (0.3 lakh hectare), Fodder (5.5 lakh hectare), Arhar (0.6 lakh hectare). Moong bean (0.6 lakh hectare), Kinnow (0.8 lakh hectare), Guava and Pear (0.2 lakh hectare), Agro Forestry (three lakh hectare), Groundnut (0.2 lakh hectare) and Vegetable (0.5 lakh hectare), he added. Mr Badal said that the Diversification plan would be instrumental in ensuring long term sustainability and improving farm incomes.

Listing out the initiatives to promote diversification, the Chief Minister said that APMC Act 1961 was being amended to provide direct marketing and setting up of private markets. He said that new Contract farming act has been enacted and notification has been issued to regulate the contracts and make mutual obligations enforceable. To incentivize the cultivation of Basmati, infra structure cess on it had been abolished to give boost to its export. The state government was seriously contemplating to review the tax structure on marketing of alternate crops by lowering them considerably to ensure a level playing field to all the stakeholders. Effective steps were afoot to incentivize the cultivation of Maize, Cotton, Sugarcane, Fruits and vegetables through ensuring  subsidized supply of hybrid seeds, weedicides etc., capital assistance at the rate of 50% for purchase of Maize planters and harvesters, cotton pickers, strengthening of infra structure in designated markets, timely availability of quality seeds through MoU with BT hybrid seeds manufacturing companies, establishment of Tissue culture labs in sugar mills, supply of quality planting material propagated through tissue culture besides setting up of four modern wood timber markets in Dasuya, Hoshiarpur, Balachaur and Ludhiana to promote Agro Forestry in a big way.

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Opinion: Eco-efficient Crop and Livestock Production for Nicaraguan Farmers


For Roberto Pineda, a smallholder farmer in the Somotillo municipality of Nicaragua, his traditional practice after each harvest was to cut down and burn all crop residues on his land, a practice known as “slash-and-burn” agriculture.

A widespread practice on these sub-humid hillsides of Central America, it was nonetheless causing many negative environmental implications, including poor soil quality, erosion, nutrient leaching, and the loss of ecosystem diversity. Slash-and-burn allows farmers to use land for only one to three years before the plots become too degraded and must be abandoned.

“We used to work in our traditional way, pruning everything down to the ground, and if there was anything left we would burn it,” he said. “The land would be destroyed and things weren’t getting better.”

But about three years ago, Pineda and a group of farmers became involved in an agroforestry programme overseen by a group of partners including the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as well as Nicaraguan, American, Austrian and Colombian institutions.

The programme works with farmers to enhance the eco-efficiency of their rural landscapes, helping them to introduce stress-adapted crop and forage options and improve crop and livestock productivity and profitability. This helps smallholders not only to improve local ecosystems but also to adapt to extreme climate conditions and safeguard soil fertility and food production over the long term.

“Now we have seen a change,” Pineda said. “We used to yield 10 quintals per manzana, and now we produce between 30 and 40 quintals per manzana. We have improved our natural resources, and trees have grown. Before, we had no trees and there was no rain.”

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A miracle tree combats malnutrition in Africa

Foto: Roy BeuskerThe National Postcode Lottery in the Netherlands, a lottery program that donates 50 percent of its proceeds to charities, announced yesterday a nearly €1.3 million three-year grant to The Hunger Project, to scale up its successful Moringa nutrition program in Benin to Uganda, Ethiopia and Malawi.

Moringa is a tropical tree whose leaves are packed with more vitamins and minerals than most foods we know. The tree is extremely rich in protein, vitamins A, B and C and other minerals that are key to combatting malnutrition.

“The Hunger Project developed a strategy, together with farmers and local volunteers, of knowing, planting and eating,” Pascal Djohossou, Country Director of The Hunger Project in Benin explained. Through the program, communities are mobilized to create nurseries to grow Moringa and factories to produce Moringa powder. The Hunger Project and its volunteer leaders also educate communities about the benefits of this power food and train them how to cook with it. These trainings are part of a larger program to educate people about proper health and nutrition for pregnant and nursing mothers and young children. By breaking the cycle of malnutrition at the start, healthy mothers deliver healthy babies who can grow into healthy, productive adults

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