We are starting this new section to make you acquaintance with the current scenarios and development happening in Agricultural Sectors in monthly basis. These Agri-Updates and Current Affairs should be proved as very much beneficial to any Competitive Examination of Agriculture and Allied Sciences.
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Three new farm bill passed in this monsoon session of Parliament
The government has passed three important agriculture related bills in this monsoon session of Parliament. These bills include “The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020”, “The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020” and “The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020”. Through the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 farmers and traders will enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers’ produce, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside physical premises of APMC markets. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 has provided a national framework on contract farming. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has removed commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities.
ICRISAT joins for a 100-year global seed longevity experiment with six global research institutions
Gene banks of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad along with six other global research institutions has begun a 100-year global seed longevity experiment in the Artic at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway in a quest to know how long seeds do live and will help in effective restoration of the world’s food resources in future. Data from the seeds of 13 crops i.e. chickpea, groundnut, pearl millet and pigeon pea from ICRISAT; rice from National Rice Seed Storage Laboratory for Genetic Resources (NRSSL) in Thailand; maize from Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária, (INIAV) in Portugal; Soybean from Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa) in Brazil; barley, pea, wheat, lettuce and Brassica oleracea from Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Germany will be collected during the experiment.
GEAC approved confined field trials of Bt Brinjal in eight states of India
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has approved the confined field trials of two new transgenic varieties of indigenously developed Bt Brinjal in eight states i.e. Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal. GEAC’s decision was welcomed by the eminent Indian agricultural scientists and the biosafety report of GM crops’ field trial was also made mandatory for commercial release in future.
Sikkim’s Dalle Khursani, one of the world’s spiciest chilli got GI tag
Sikkim’s Dalle Khursani, a famous red-hot cherry pepper, has earned a geographical indication (GI) tag from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade based on an application filed by the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC) in Guwahati. It is also one of the world’s hottest chillies with a range of 1,00,000 to 3,50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and a price of Rs 480 per kg. It is used in local food preparations especially in momos and possesses medicinal properties.
Goa gets GI tag on Moira Banana, Harmal Chillies and Khaje
Goa’s spicy Harmal Chilli and Moira Banana (Myndoli Banana) got GI tag under Class- 31 from Geographical Indications Registry. Along with this the traditional sweet ‘Khaje’ also secured GI tag under foodstuffs in Class- 30. Harmal-Pernem Chilli Growers Association for Harmal chilli, Myndoli Banana Growers Association for Moira Banana and All-Goa Producers Association applied for the GI tag.
ITC’s e-Chaupal 4.0 to increase its coverage in eastern states of India
ITC’s e-Chaupal launched in June, 2000 with an investment of Rs 10,000 crore in agriculture supply chain project would benefit eastern states of India by e-Chaupal 4.0 project pan India as told by the Sanjiv Puri, director of ITC. The project would increase the coverage from four million to ten million and increase the farm income by 30% with the help of modern technologies. ITC is working with 30 crops and 300 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO’s) as of now.
PM Narendra Modi launched Rs. 20,050 crore-Pradhan Mantri Matysa Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) and e-Gopala app
PM Narendra Modi launched Rs 20,050 crore-Pradhan Mantri Matysa Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) on 10th September 2020 to boost production and exports in fisheries sector for its implementation during 2020-21 to 2024-25. PM also launched e-Gopala mobile app that provides solutions on problems related to livestock to the farmers and also inaugurated semen station with state-of-the-art facilities in Purnea with an investment of Rs 84.27 crore on 75 acres of land made available by Bihar government. The PMMSY aims at enhancing fish production by an additional 70 lakh tonne by 2024-25, increasing fisheries export earnings to Rs 1,00,000 crore by 2024-25, reducing post-harvest losses from 20-25 per cent to about 10 per cent and generation of additional 55 lakhs direct and indirect gainful employment opportunities in fisheries sector and allied activities.
Government has increased Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has authorised the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for the marketing season 2021-22. The highest increase in MSP has been announced for lentil (Rs. 300 per quintal) followed by gram and rapeseed & mustard (Rs. 225 per quintal each) and safflower (Rs. 112 per quintal) and for barley and wheat, an increase of Rs. 75 per quintal and Rs 50 per quintal respectively has been announced.
Madhya Pradesh tops among the Indian states in terms of acreage of organic cultivation
MP has the largest acreage of agricultural land under organic cultivation i.e. 0.76 million ha which is over 27 % of India’s total area under organic cultivation followed by Rajasthan and Maharashtra. These three states account for the country’s half of the area under organic cultivation.
Namami Gange to encourage organic farming along the banks of Ganga to curb pollution
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) or Namami Gange launched in May, 2020 has initiated a project for organic farming in the villages along Ganga right from its source in Gangotri in Uttarakhand till Gangasagar in West Bengal to prevent the discharge of chemical fertilizers into water body and expected to reduce the pollution by at least 15-20%.
India spent 0.67 % of the total agricultural gross domestic product on agricultural research and education
The public expenditure for agricultural research and education increased from Rs.115.44 billion in 2014-15 to Rs. 173.60 billion (at current prices) in 2017-18 i.e. 0.67% of total agricultural GDP at current price. GoI is also collaborating with national and international institutes for funds proposals on competitive basis for Basic, Strategic and Frontier Application Research in Agriculture.
South India’s 1st and country’s 2nd Kisan Rail between Anantapur and New Delhi flagged off
The inaugural run of South India’s 1st and country’s 2nd Kisan Rail between Anantapur in Guntakal Division of the South Central Railway and Adarsh Nagar in New Delhi which will cover a distance of 2,150 km in 40 hours was flagged off by Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 9 September 2020. This initiative is intended to help the fruit bowl of AP-Anantapur which grows fruits and vegetables in more than two lakh ha area.
Centralized Farm Machinery Performance Testing Portal launched by Shri Narendra Singh Tomar
On 24th September 2020, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar launched the “Centralized Farm Machinery Performance Testing Portal” which has been developed by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare as a further step to improve services of farm machinery testing institutions and bringing out transparency in the entire process of testing and evaluation of machines. DAC&FW has also identified and authorized 35 institutions under the State Agricultural Universities, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the State Governments for testing and evaluation of agricultural machinery in addition to existing four Farm Machinery Training & Testing Institutes.
ICAR Announces KRITAGYA Hackathon 2020 Under National Agricultural Higher Education Project
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has announced KRITAGYA (Krishi-Taknik-Gyan) hackathon under the National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) to promote potential technology solutions for enhancing farm mechanization with special emphasis on women-friendly equipments. A team should consist maximum of four participants with not more than one faculty and/or more than one innovator or entrepreneur. Participating students can collaborate with local start-ups, students from technology institutes, and can win Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 1 lakh as first, second and third prize.
No more blending in mustard oil as FSSAI cracks down on adulteration
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as per the direction of Central Government has prohibited the amalgamation of other vegetable oils with mustard oils from 1st October 2020 to ensure the safety in consumption of mustard oils. This new decision has ruled out the permission of mixing of 20% other edible oil in mustard oil.
KVK’s across the country distributed one lakh Nutrition Kits to Anganwadi workers on the Birthday of PM
On the occasion of Rashtriya Poshan Maah and the birthday of Shri Narendra Modi, the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK’s) across the country distributed 1 Lakh Nutrition Kits to Anganwadi Workers on 17 September 2020 to achieve the goals of nutritional security. Addressing the gathering, the Union Minister highlighted the establishment of 307 Nutrition Smart Villages and 8,264 Nutri Gardens by the KVKs across the country under the guidance of 11 Agricultural Technical Application Research Institutes (ATARI) and also lauded the significant role played by the Ministry of Women & Child Development; Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare; ICAR and IFFCO along with other organizations in providing the nutritious food to the women and children of the country.
Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Assam campus has been inaugurated at Gogamukh of Dhemaji district
Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar dedicated to the nation the campus of the new Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Gogamukh, Assam on 25th September 2020. Minister announced that the IARI, Assam will be named after Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. Government of Assam provided 585 acres of land for establishing this Institution at Dirpai Chapori, Gogamukh circle, Dhemaji district of Assam covering an area of about. The selected site is located at about 430 km from the state capital Dispur, 45 km from Dhemaji town (District Headquarter) and 100 km from Dibrugarh, the second largest town of Assam.
DBT – ICAR Transfer of Technology of novel Brucella vaccine viz. Brucella abortusS19 delta per vaccine
A Technology License Agreement (TLA) ceremony on “Brucella abortus S19Δ per vaccine” was held on 22 September 2020 between Dr. R. K. Singh, Director, ICAR-IVRI, Izatnagar, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, CEO and MD, Hester Biosciences Limited, Ahmedabad, Ms Anju Bhalla, MD, DBT- Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and Dr Sudha Mysore, CEO, Agrinnovate India Limited. The vaccine candidate has DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) capability was developed under DBT funded “Brucellosis network program” by ICAR-IVRI. In the process of modifying the S19 strain, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) structure of the organism was altered through deletion mutation.
Source: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx PRID=1659034#:~:text=Novel%20Brucella%20vaccine%20can%20play,Brucellosis%20control%20programme%20of%20India&text=Department%20of%20Biotechnology%20(DBT)%2C,and%20an%20MoU%20was%2 0signed
Global Multidimensional Poverty Index: NITI Aayog constitutes MPI Coordination Committee
NITI Aayog inaugurated Multidimensional Poverty Index Coordination Committee (MPICC) on 2nd September, 2020 chaired by Ms. Sanyukta Samaddar, advisor SDG’s to leverage the monitoring mechanisms of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (GMPI); a part of the government’s decision to monitor the performance of the country on 29 selected global indices. In Global MPI 2020, India was ranked 62nd among 107 countries with an MPI score of 0.123 and 27.91 per cent headcount ratio, based on the NFHS-4 (2015-16) data.
Narendra Singh Tomar takes the additional charge of Ministry of Food Processing Industries
Shri Narendra Singh Tomar is assigned the charge of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries from 23 September, 2020 in addition to his existing portfolios i.e. the Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Minister of Rural Development, and Minister of Panchayati Raj after the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Council of Ministers on 17 September, 2020 as a protest against Farm Bills.
Fruit Route: a QR code introduced by INI to trace the origin of a fruit
INI Farms- India’s leading farm to fork ag-tech fruit Brand Company has introduced origin traceability feature by dynamic QR code for all its fruits under the brand name Kimaye (India’s largest global fruit brand) in the international and domestic market under the technology program called “FruitRoute”. This facility is currently available for Pomegranates, Arils and Coconut which will enable food safety as well as farmer-level traceability to the end-consumer.
Countries lag behind in achieving SDG’s says FAO
According to the latest report by FAO entitled as “Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2020” emphasised the lack of nations’ progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) prior to the pandemic and pandemic makes it more challenging. Some of the key findings in the report are food and agriculture domain lags behind in development, 8.9 percent of world population is found to be hungry(2019 estimate), food insecurity affects 2 billion people, gender inequalities in land rights are prevalent, Central and Southern Asia and Northern Africa suffers from severe water stress over 70%.
World’s largest ‘Solar Tree’ developed by CSIR-CEMERI in Durgapur, West Bengal
Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CEMERI) under CSIR have installed world’s largest ‘solar tree’ in Durgapur, West Bengal intending to make India carbon negative and energy reliant. The installed capacity of the solar tree is above 11.5 kW with 35 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules in each tree of 330 W capacity costs ₹750,000 for each tree and is claimed to generate 12,000-14,000 kWh of clean power annually. It is aligned with the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme for developing a Renewable Energy based Energy Grid and also each tree has the potential to save 10-12 tons of CO2 emissions. Solar trees are also tailor made for agricultural activities such as incorporating IoT (Internet of Things) based features in field, connecting e-Suvidha Kiosks and e-NAM for real-time and instant access to agricultural information.
Mahila Evam Kishori Samman Yojana & Mukhya Mantri Doodh Uphar Yojana launched by Haryana Government for state’s girls & women
The Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar launched two schemes with a total outlay of Rs. 256 Crore on August 5, 2020 to boost the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign. Under “Mahila Evam Kishori Samman Yojana” free sanitary napkins were provided to the girls and women of BPL families and “Mukhya Mantri Doodh Uphar Yojana” was launched to provide flavoured skimmed milk powder to children and women.
Indira Van Mitan Yojana launched by Chhattisgarh CM on World Tribal Day
On August 9, 2020 Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel had announced the launch of Indira Van Mitan Yojana to make forest dwellers self-reliant. Under the scheme, groups of youth will be formed in ten thousand villages of tribal areas and they will conduct all forest based economic activities which in turn will create employment for the forest-dwellers. This scheme will be cover 19 lakh families.
FAO celebrate the first ever observance of the “International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste” on 29th September 2020
FAO celebrated the first ever observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on 29 September, 2020. On this occasion, FAO reported that globally about 14 per cent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. So, actions are required globally and locally to maximize the use of produced food.
Bamboo shoots possess nutraceutical properties-the cheapest among the immunity booster
On the occasion of World Bamboo Day, 18 September 25 experts from 11 countries described about the nutraceutical properties of bamboo shoot which is said to range from 1.49%-4.04% and also contains 17 amino acids of which eight are essential. On this day, Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb launched the “bamboo cookies” and bamboo-made honey bottles. India has the highest area (13.96 mha) under bamboo with an annual production of 14.6 mt and 136 species of bamboo second after China.
The discovery of a new protein in plant roots may minimize the need for chemical fertilizers
Researchers have discovered how a protein in plant roots regulates the absorption of minerals and water, a discovery that may increase the climate change resilience of crops and minimize the need for chemical fertilizers. The study, published in Current Biology, showed that Uclacyanins, members of the blue copper protein family, are critical in the formation of Casparian strips. These strips are important structures that regulate the efficiency of mineral nutrients and water use by forming tight seals between plant cells, blocking nutrients and leaking water between them. This research shows that the molecular machinery required for the deposition of Casparian strip lignin is highly ordered by the creation of nano-domains that can have a huge impact on plant nutrition, which will help in the development of crops that are efficient in taking in the nutrients they need.
Lonely locusts can be attracted into a hungry swarm by only one chemical
Locusts are typically social outcasts that are harmless. In the masses, however, they become plagues. Hundreds of millions of locusts will produce a swarm! These hordes can cross continents, feeding on the way by crops. A recent research has now discovered what could make a single locust decide to socialize. 4-vinylanisole (4VA) (also known as 4-methoxystyrene) is an aggregation pheromone of the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), to know the role of this compound scientists used behavioural assays, electrophysiological documentation, olfactory receptor characterization and field experiments. Both gregarious and solitary locusts, regardless of age and sex, are highly attracted to 4VA. Specifically, it elicits responses from basiconic sensilla on locust antennae. Researchers have also described OR35 as a particular 4VA olfactory receptor. OR35 knockout using CRISPR-Cas9 substantially decreased the antennae’s electrophysiological responses and impaired 4VA behavioural attractiveness. These results identify a pheromone of locust aggregation and provide insights into the creation of novel techniques for locusts to control.
The global scarcity of phosphorus would be amplified by soil erosion
In the near future, the depletion of soil phosphorus (P) from agricultural systems would reduce food and feed production. To calculate global soil P loss, we combine spatially distributed global soil erosion estimates (only considering sheet and rill erosion by water) with spatially distributed global P content for cropland soils. Despite high chemical fertilizer input, world soils are currently depleted in P. There are the highest P depletion rates in Africa (not being able to afford the high cost of chemical fertilizer) as well as in South America (due to inefficient organic P management) and Eastern Europe (for a combination of the two previous reasons). Agricultural soils worldwide will be reduced by about 4-19 kg ha-1 yr-1 in a future environment with an expected absolute scarcity of mineral P fertilizer, with average P losses due to water erosion contributing more than 50 percent of total P losses.
Ammonium stimulates formation of lateral roots
The lateral root development process includes initiation, development and elongation, is regulated by auxin. Now, the question arises as to how auxin responds to the local presence of ammonium in natural and agricultural soils, which is a major source of nitrogen. scientists recently demonstrated that ammonium uptake through root induces pH changes that carry the plant hormone auxin into a protonated form that enables auxin to disperse into external root cells where it induces lateral root emergence. Importing Auxin into cortical and epidermal cells improves the expression of genes involved in loosening the cell wall, reducing the mechanical resistance needed for lateral root emergence. In soils, the emergence of ammonium-triggered lateral root is not only important for the shaping of root system architecture in natural environments under patchy nitrogen availability but also in the development of crops. The lateral root formation of field-grown crops, as well as the mobilization and absorption of co-supplied phosphate, have been shown to increase certain local ammonium depots. These research findings have now been published in the journal Nature Plants.
Diamondback moth uses plant defence substances as oviposition signals
Scientists have demonstrated that isothiocyanates (ITCs) provided by cruciferous plants serve as oviposition signals to fend off pests. They identified two olfactory receptors whose sole purpose is to detect and direct the moths to the ideal oviposition sites. However, the Plutella xylostella, (diamond back moth) has developed its own mechanisms to outwit this defence. It can successfully feed on plants of the cabbage family and make use of the plants for its own reproductive purposes. Scientists found that Or35 and Or49 explicitly responded to three ITCs (iberverin, 4-pentenyl ITC, and phenylethyl ITC) by ectopically expressing these Ors in Xenopus oocytes. In electro antennogram recordings with female antennas, the same ITCs also exhibited the highest activity and were the best oviposition stimulants. Knocking out either Or35 or Or49 via CRISPR-Cas9 resulted in a reduced preference for the ITCs for oviposition, while double or knockout females totally lost their ITC preference.
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